The term “protocol” comes from the Late Greek word “prōtokollon,” which means “first sheet glued to a manuscript,” originally referring to the leaf or cover attached to a manuscript containing notes or the title. This is derived from “prōto-” meaning “first” and “kollan,” meaning “to glue.”

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “*kwel-” means “to turn” or “to revolve.”

2. Greek

From the PIE root, the Greek word “kollan” developed, meaning “to glue.” The prefix “prōto-” (first) was combined with “kollan,” forming “prōtokollon,” meaning “first sheet glued to a manuscript.”

3. Late Latin (c. 4th to 10th century CE)

The Greek term “prōtokollon” was adopted into Late Latin as “protocollum,” retaining the meaning of “first sheet of a manuscript.”

4. Old French (c. 9th to 14th century CE)

The Late Latin “protocollum” evolved into Old French “prothocole” or “protocole,” expanding its meaning to include official documents and procedures.

5. Middle English (c. 11th to 15th century CE)

The Old French “protocole” was adopted into Middle English as “protocol,” retaining the meaning of “official record” or “formal procedure.”

6. Modern English (from 15th century CE to present)

The term “protocol” evolved into its current form and pronunciation, primarily meaning “a system of rules that explain the correct conduct and procedures to be followed in formal situations.”

Phonetic Evolution

Over time, the pronunciation of “protocol” has remained relatively stable from Old French to Modern English.

Usage Examples

  • “Protocol is often used to describe a system of rules or formal procedures.”
  • “Another example of ‘protocol’ in a sentence is ‘The diplomats followed a strict protocol during the negotiations.'”

Cultural or Historical Notes

The development of the word “protocol” was significantly influenced by its use in various contexts, including diplomacy, medicine, and computer science. Protocols have been essential in establishing formal procedures, ensuring consistency, and facilitating communication.

The word “protocol” reflects the concept of formal procedures and rules, emphasizing the importance of structure, order, and adherence to established guidelines. It underscores the role of protocols in maintaining professionalism, ensuring clear communication, and achieving consistency in various fields, from international relations to scientific research and technology.