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See also: Protagonist


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From Ancient Greek πρωταγωνιστής (prōtagōnistḗs, a chief actor), from πρῶτος (prôtos, first) + ἀγωνιστής (agōnistḗs, a combatant, pleader, actor).

Surface analysis prot- (first) +‎ agonist (combatant, participant).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɹəˈtæ.ɡə.nɪst/
  • (US) IPA(key): /pɹoʊˈtæ.ɡə.nɪst/
  • (file)


protagonist (plural protagonists)

  1. (authorship) The main character, or one of the main characters, in any story, such as a literary work or drama.
    Antonym: antagonist
  2. A leading person in a contest; a principal performer.
  3. (proscribed) An advocate or champion of a cause or course of action.

Usage notes[edit]

The use of protagonist to mean a proponent or supporter of a cause is a 20th century development that may have been influenced by the misunderstanding that the first syllable of the word is the prefix pro-, meaning favouring.[1] This usage is widely considered to be erroneous.[2][3]

Coordinate terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language[1], Fifth edition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018, archived from the original on 6 September 2018, retrieved 6 September 2018
  2. ^ Pinker, Steven (2014) The Sense of Style, New York, New York: Penguin, →ISBN
  3. ^ Feloni, Richard (30 November 2015), “The 58 Most Commonly Misused Words and Phrases”, in The Independent, Independent Print Limited, archived from the original on 6 September 2018, retrieved 6 September 2018



protagonist c (singular definite protagonisten, plural indefinite protagonister)

  1. (literature) protagonist
    Antonym: hovedperson


Further reading[edit]