Definition of protonotary in US English:


(also prothonotary)


  • A chief clerk in some courts of law, originally in the Byzantine court.

    • ‘In Pennsylvania government functions done elsewhere by appointed department heads are performed by elected officials, including county coroner (who doesn't have to be a licensed medical examiner) and prothonotary or chief notary.’
    • ‘And the inherent jurisdiction is sometimes invoked by the prothonotary, is it not, as it was in Ziems, I think.’
    • ‘What was sought by the application for security was an order that the defendants provide security for the costs of the appeal to the prothonotary in a form satisfactory to the prothonotary.’
    • ‘All civil litigation is filed with the prothonotary, including unpaid debt, mortgage foreclosures and personal injury cases.’
    • ‘Oh, you'll tell me the protonotaries and clerks of the court are writers too.’


Late Middle English: via medieval Latin from late Greek prōtonotarios, from prōtos ‘first’ + notarios ‘notary’.