Protagonist Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Searching for information on the meaning of protagonist? Look no further and keep reading — here’s our complete guide on the word protagonist.

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Did you know that you are the protagonist of the story of your life? Yup, it’s true — everyone else is simply a side character. That said, what exactly does the word protagonist mean? Where did it come from? And how is it used in a sentence? 

You have questions, and we have answers. Read on as we explore the term protagonist to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, and more. 

What Is the Definition of Protagonist?

If you look at any of the English language dictionaries, the word protagonist is defined as the leading character of any literary work. Protagonist can also mean a leading person or thing in a real-life situation. 

Below we have included a few examples of various protagonists in past literary works:

  • The Hunger Games — Katniss
  • Little Red Riding Hood — Red Riding Hood
  • Charlotte’s Web — Wilbur
  • The Wizard of Oz — Dorothy
  • Pride and Prejudice — Elizabeth Bennett
  • Romeo and Juliet — Romeo and Juliet
  • The Little Mermaid — Ariel
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — Ferris

A movie, play, or novel can have many main characters, but in most cases, there is only one true protagonist. 

Protagonist can also be used to portray the leader of a cause or champion of a certain cause. In this literary sense, the word protagonist often gets misused for the word proponent, which itself means a person who supports a cause. 

What Is the Etymology of Protagonist?

The word protagonist stems from the Greek words prōtos (meaning first) and agōnistēs (meaning competitor or actor). It also comes from the Greek prōtagōnistēs — the principal character in a drama or story.

In any Ancient Greek drama, the leading actor was its protagonist. By definition, there could only ever be one in any play. This led to the creation of other Ancient Greek words like deuteragonist (second most important character) and tritagonist (third most important character).

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Protagonist?

In all forms of communication utilizing synonyms and antonyms is a great way to avoid being repetitive. Worry not if you threw out your thesaurus after grade school; we have you covered! 

For those that need to brush up a bit, a synonym is a phrase, word, or even abbreviation that has a similar or same meaning to another word, whereas an antonym is the opposite. 

By showing us what a word does not mean, an antonym can help us further understand what a word does mean. Try utilizing these abbreviations, words, and phrases in all forms of speech!

These synonyms are provided by Power Thesaurus:

  • Proponent
  • Main character
  • Hero 
  • Central character
  • Champion 
  • Advocate
  • Chief actor
  • Exponent 
  • Leading character
  • Espouser 
  • Upholder 
  • Moving spirit
  • Tub thumper
  • Admirer
  • Principal character
  • Leading main

Check out these antonyms provided by Power Thesaurus:

  • Combatant 
  • Bad guy
  • Opponent
  • Adversary
  • Other side
  • Second string
  • Antihero
  • Inferior player
  • Antagonist
  • Non Speaking part
  • Opposer
  • Secondary role
  • Malfeasant
  • Transgressor 
  • Walk on 
  • Minor character

How Can You Use Protagonist in a Sentence?

Example sentences can help us infer the meaning behind words by seeing them in action. Below, you will find a few example sentences on the proper usage of protagonist:

I truly adore how the protagonist was portrayed in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

Were the Jedi the protagonists in the Star Wars series or was it the Skywalkers?

The writer tried, but I was not fooled by the false protagonist they introduced in the first part.

If you ask me, the protagonist of the movie was an incredible actor!

In the screenplay, the protagonist has to complete a series of deadly tasks in order to save his daughter.

What Are Translations of Protagonist?

Take a moment to look at this list of translations of our word of the day, protagonist, and learn how to talk about the main character of your favorite movie with people around the globe!

The list below is provided by Collins Dictionary of the English Language:

  • Spanish — protagonista
  • Thai — ผู้สนับสนุน
  • European Portuguese — protagonista
  • Japanese — 主唱者
  • German — Verfechter
  • European Spanish — protagonista
  • Chinese — 倡导者
  • French — champion
  • Korean — 주창자
  • Brazilian Portuguese — protagonista


We are all protagonists in our own stories. In other words, you hold the leading role in your life; you’re not the mere supporting cast —you are your own protagonist!

Defined as the leading character or one of the major characters in a movie, novel, drama, or other fictional text, the word protagonist comes from Ancient Greek πρωταγωνιστής (aka prōtagōnistḗs) which translates to “one who plays the first part.”

Although there are many, some of literature’s most beloved protagonists include Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Frodo Baggins, Matilda, Forest Gump, Luke Skywalker, and Hamlet.

Who is your favorite protagonist of all time and why? Do you tend to favor the antagonist over the protagonist? We hope this guide has provided you with all of the information you need to understand our word of the day — protagonist. 

To discover more interesting words and expand your English vocabulary, visit our website where you’ll find a number of interesting blogs on popular terminology, slang words, and more. 


  1. Protagonist Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  2. Protagonist Synonyms | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Protagonists | The Free Dictionary