Definition of protocol in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.

    ‘protocol forbids the prince from making any public statement in his defence’
    • ‘The princess provides a secondary storyline where she is obliged to follow rules and protocol.’
    • ‘The minister stressed that diplomatic protocol is the government's chief concern when it arranges overseas trips for him.’
    • ‘There was, however, a personal message from the President, under his signature, delivered with official pomp and protocol in Paris.’
    • ‘Since legislators are not subject to diplomatic protocol, they have no hesitation in denouncing its participation in ASEAN as a source of embarrassment.’
    • ‘Perhaps some lessons in protocol, diplomacy, and good relations with the electorate can be organised for the PM.’
    • ‘There is much to show that naming practices were carefully considered and raised issues of protocol and diplomacy as well as propaganda.’
    • ‘The Queen's life is ruled by events and engagements, protocol and tradition.’
    • ‘Becoming a minister can become a boring job - too much protocol and official events.’
    • ‘However, a new explanation has emerged, which may explain his determination to break with diplomatic protocol and speak his mind.’
    • ‘They wanted to meet the Pope but protocol and security reasons ruled out any private meeting.’
    • ‘It seems that beside teaching new government leaders protocol, they certainly need lessons in public speaking.’
    • ‘So how could he make a preference known without breaching diplomatic protocol?’
    • ‘The only breach of this unwritten rule of protocol I've noticed occurred at the Buckingham Palace pop concert.’
    • ‘At the end of the day, every one knows that this is still a diplomatic affair, where protocol and ethics must be observed, and cordiality must always be extended.’
    • ‘However, this didn't mean they could not accept normal protocol and courtesies such as invitation to and attendance at civic, cultural or festive events.’
    • ‘He was a career diplomat who put protocol above all else.’
    • ‘We had not planned to fly it because of Government protocol but following talks with other party leaders we decided it was not an unreasonable request.’
    • ‘It would be an opportunity to make new acquaintances and learn something about protocol, diplomacy, and the idiosyncrasies of other lands in one stroke.’
    • ‘Here's an opportunity to know the right etiquette and protocol for different occasions.’
    • ‘The historical analysis is also accompanied by a small number of photographs which, when taken together, offer an intriguing insight into diplomatic protocol.’
    etiquette, social practice, custom, usage, use, habit, wont, procedure, rules, convention, tradition, fashion, style, routine, ritual, pattern, regimen, policy, method, system, way, rule, formula, set formula
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    1. 1.1The accepted or established code of procedure or behaviour in any group, organization, or situation.
      ‘what is the protocol at a smart lunch if one's neighbour dozes off during the speeches?’
      • ‘That would be a break from protocol in these situations.’
      • ‘I know all these women are experienced campaigners, but how rewarding to see that they are all still enjoying their game, observing the protocols, and displaying excellent sportsmanship.’
      • ‘We have no protocol of behavior, and this is far more dangerous than these physical diseases.’
      • ‘Protocol dictates that officers remove their caps when entering the courtroom.’
      • ‘Manners and protocol are society's standard operating procedures, codes of conduct, and accepted customs.’
      • ‘But strict protocol requires victims to first seek referrals from the police.’
      • ‘He said he obviously went against established protocol.’
      • ‘Anyhow, as barbeque protocol dictates we all ate far too much.’
      • ‘In this particular instance, a temp employee made a mistake and did not follow our established protocol, and we regret any inconvenience this may have caused.’
      • ‘What are its core functions and ‘sacred cows’, and what are formalities and protocols that are of secondary import?’
      • ‘They even laugh and smile when she gets the protocol at formal events a little wrong.’
      • ‘They think that flags should be used with respect for the ideals that they symbolise, and in accordance with established protocol.’
      • ‘The producers have agreed to certain protocols that should increase the actors' safety while performing on stage.’
      • ‘Other staff members want to record the count as incorrect but not follow the established protocol for an incorrect count.’
      • ‘The Minister also announced that eventing, dressage and some other equestrian activities will be permitted to resume in accordance with agreed protocols.’
      • ‘But museum bosses have now decided to eschew accepted protocol because they believe museum visitors should have the opportunity to join the discussion about whether mummies should be shown.’
      • ‘While no protocol can anticipate every situation, common sense and good judgment will be our guiding principles.’
      • ‘He was trying to establish protocol, but she wasn't helping him by being so amenable.’
      • ‘He is a quiet man, courteous and punctilious on form and protocol.’
      • ‘Though she attends a widow's support group, there seems to be no established protocol for telling a new partner about being a widow.’
      etiquette, conventions, formalities, customs, rules of conduct, procedure, ritual, code of behaviour, accepted behaviour, conventionalities, propriety, proprieties, one's ps and qs, decorum, manners, courtesies, civilities, good form, the done thing, the thing to do, punctilio
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  • 2The original draft of a diplomatic document, especially of the terms of a treaty agreed to in conference and signed by the parties.

    ‘signatories to the Montreal Protocol’
    ‘Hungary and the Soviet Union signed a trade protocol’
    • ‘Under him, furthermore, a growing number of international protocols and treaties have been abandoned or repudiated.’
    • ‘It said a protocol would be signed during the pre-summit ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Singapore in November.’
    • ‘On 1 September 2000, twelve countries, including Mauritius and South Africa, signed a trade protocol to have zero duty trade.’
    • ‘Why did New Zealand sign and ratify a protocol that has already agreed to set rules for liability and redress for damage, if it now intends to undermine the treaty by suggesting that rules on liability may not be necessary?’
    • ‘Such a cut was almost certainly infeasible when the Clinton administration signed the protocol in 1997.’
    • ‘The fact that Zambia had signed several trade protocols meant that there were ready markets for local goods in far flung places like Europe.’
    • ‘Despite signing the protocol, the Turkish government is refusing to open up its ports and airports for travel to and from Cyprus.’
    • ‘Hostilities ended in August when Spain signed a peace protocol in Washington.’
    • ‘The Netherlands is very serious, as is Europe, about this issue, and I believe that the Russians will sign the protocol - but let us wait and see.’
    • ‘Which is correct - the Prime Minister's statement, or the protocol that was signed off on 18 June 2001?’
    • ‘However, the passage of this bill will enable New Zealand to become party to the firearms protocol.’
    • ‘The protocol was signed by all parties in the agreement and sent out to the relevant authorities.’
    • ‘He liberally cites, for instance, all the protocols of the party congresses and conferences published throughout the 1950s and 1960s as if they are reliable.’
    • ‘Eleven member states agreed under a protocol to accept the Chapter, which Britain did not sign.’
    • ‘Last May, they unanimously passed a resolution encouraging the government to sign the protocol.’
    • ‘But it's not just in the area of international treaties and protocols where Australia has developed a more selective and reactive stance.’
    • ‘According to the report, the ministries of external affairs, finance, labour and commerce have already agreed on the draft agreement on the protocol to be signed with the US.’
    • ‘As with private contracts, so with international treaties and protocols.’
    • ‘The Commission signed financial protocols with the member states on their respective responsibilities with regard to the management of EU monies.’
    • ‘He said the City hoped to have all the necessary parties sign the protocol by the end of May 2005.’
    agreement, treaty, entente, concord, concordat, convention, deal, pact, contract, compact, settlement, arrangement
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    1. 2.1An amendment or addition to a treaty or convention.
      ‘a protocol to the treaty allowed for this Danish referendum’
      • ‘To date, 46 member states have ratified the protocol to the treaty establishing the parliament.’
      • ‘Over the centuries, however, various laws, treaties, conventions, and protocols have attempted to shield them from harm.’
      • ‘This is arranged for in two protocols to the Treaty.’
      • ‘The Democratic Republic of Congo recently signed the optional protocols that give children more rights and protection.’
      • ‘The Convention was followed in 1998 by an additional protocol on the cloning of human beings.’
      • ‘It has no independent existence, since it has effect solely in relation to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention and its protocols.’
      • ‘In December 2002, the US endorsed the additional protocols to this convention.’
      • ‘Essentially every country in the world has ratified these treaties, bar three; also Australia has ratified the two additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions.’
      • ‘A problem is that part of the lawsuit is based on the additional protocols to the Geneva Convention, which have not been ratified by the US.’
      • ‘A protocol on the treaty then limited each country to one ABM site.’
      • ‘You have been signing treaties, conventions and protocols for children but have never honoured them with genuine intention and political will.’
      • ‘Rather what it does is to give effect to certain provisions of the Convention and some of its protocols by providing that these so-called Convention rights are to have a defined status in English law.’
      • ‘In addition there were various protocols to the Treaty and declarations adopted by the Member States.’
      • ‘Sending attachments is forbidden by copyright protocols of the Geneva Convention.’
      • ‘Various provisions of treaties and protocols under international humanitarian law prohibit the use of human shields by a party to a conflict.’
      • ‘A number of matters (say, the granting of preferences, and so forth) could be addressed in additional protocols to the treaty.’
      • ‘He was referring to the additional protocol to the Nonproliferation Treaty, which allows inspectors to visit any nuclear site at any time, without giving prior notice.’
      • ‘In protocols to the Maastricht Treaty, the UK and Denmark have secured the right to permanently remain outside the monetary union.’
      • ‘Moreover, new treaties, protocols, or amendments thereto will normally require positive ratification to enter into force.’
      • ‘Opponents claim a declaration or a protocol attached to the treaty is an insufficient recognition of their opposition to the treaty.’
  • 3A formal or official record of scientific experimental observations.

    ‘protocols of published cases frequently lack this vital information’
    • ‘The final interview included verification of previous interview and observation protocols and validation of the description that had been developed.’
    • ‘Theories, case studies, empirical studies, therapy session transcripts and treatment protocols are generously offered throughout this work.’
    1. 3.1A procedure for carrying out a scientific experiment or a course of medical treatment.
      ‘a study protocol approved by the ethics committee of the hospital’
      ‘the low doses of morphine recommended in the protocol’
      • ‘The medical center's institutional review board approved the study protocol.’
      • ‘In one study there was no indication as to the protocol for intubation and treatment failure.’
      • ‘All individuals for the mapping family were amplified using the standard amplification protocol described above.’
      • ‘Certain experimental protocols have been used to assess a fish's swimming performance.’
      • ‘Our study protocol was approved by the Scientific and Ethical Advisory Group of the General Practice Research Database.’
      • ‘Enforce proper treatment protocols and evacuation procedures creating realistic constraints and stress.’
      • ‘The local scientific-ethical committee approved the protocol, and we used an informed consent form.’
      • ‘The observers were both paediatricians, received additional training from prerecorded tapes, and became familiar to the participants as the study protocol was carried out.’
      • ‘The recombinant yeast cells were selected and grown according to the manufacturer's protocols.’
      • ‘They need to suppress their urge to be mavericks, and to stick to proven medical protocols.’
      • ‘More than 230 Defence personnel became role players as victims, undergoing decontamination and medical treatment protocols.’
      • ‘Further studies are needed using diagnostic criteria and treatment protocols that are representative of community practice.’
      • ‘The protocol for treatment recommended specific interventions related to stage of the pressure of the ulcer.’
      • ‘We recommend that treatment protocols that address these areas be developed and tested in the future.’
      • ‘Therefore the research presented in this paper does not follow strict scientific protocol.’
      • ‘The study protocol was approved by the University Hospital Medical Ethics Committee, and written informed consent was obtained from all participants.’
      • ‘The experimental protocol was approved by the hospital's Institutional Review Committee.’
      • ‘This reference manual outlines the University of Texas Medical Branch protocols for treating both children and adult patients with burns.’
      • ‘As a patient advocate, the perioperative nurse is obligated to adhere to safe medication protocols.’
      • ‘When perioperative nurses train new employees or teach staff members new procedures and protocols, they experience scholarly teaching.’
  • 4Computing
    A set of rules governing the exchange or transmission of data between devices.

    • ‘Using ubiquitous internet protocols like XML and HTTP, web services allow the sharing of data or logic over the network and even through firewalls.’
    • ‘Recently, it's started to be used for Internet communication protocols and other network applications.’
    • ‘Internet mail protocols - the technical rules that govern how messages are transmitted - need revamping.’
    • ‘The team built the platform on Internet communication protocols.’
    • ‘Typically, a firewall lets HTTP requests pass through - HTTP being the standard protocol for transmitting webpages.’


Late Middle English (denoting the original minute of an agreement, forming the legal authority for future dealings relating to it): from Old French prothocole, via medieval Latin from Greek prōtokollon first page, flyleaf, from prōtos first + kolla glue. Sense 1 derives from French protocole, the collection of set forms of etiquette to be observed by the French head of state, and the name of the government department responsible for this (in the 19th century).