Attested in English since 1530, from Latin protectus (“covered, protected”), past participle of protegere (“to cover the front, protect”) from pro- + tegere (“to cover”). More at thatch. Displaced native Middle English helien, forhelian (“to conceal, protect”) (from Old English helian, forhelian (“to conceal, cover, hide”), Middle English bischilden, beschielden (“to protect”) (from Middle English schild, shelde (“shield”)), Middle English berwen, bergen (“to protect, preserve”) (from Old English beorgan (“to protect, preserve”)), Middle English mundien, mounden (“to protect”) (from Old English mundian (“to protect, watch over, act as guardian over”)).
- To keep safe; to defend; to guard; to prevent harm coming to.
2012 March 1, William E. Carter, Merri Sue Carter, “The British Longitude Act Reconsidered”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 2, page 87:
- But was it responsible governance to pass the Longitude Act without other efforts to protect British seamen? Or might it have been subterfuge—a disingenuous attempt to shift attention away from the realities of their life at sea.