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any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Church.
an adherent of any of those Christian bodies that separated from the Church of Rome during the Reformation, or of any group descended from them.
(originally) any of the German princes who protested against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which had denounced the Reformation.
(lowercase) a person who protests.
belonging or pertaining to Protestants or their religion.
(lowercase) .
Contemporary Examples

What used to be called “the Protestant work ethic” is now better understood as an immigrant ethic, and it is not just about work.
Cardinal O’Malley: Pope Francis Knows Immigrants Are the Future of the Church Christopher Dickey June 3, 2014

Being a Catholic helps in some Midwestern states, but less so in the heavily Protestant communities of South Carolina.
Is Rick Santorum for Real After Strong Iowa Caucuses Finish? Howard Kurtz January 4, 2012

The United States Air Force Academy has a Wiccan shrine on campus alongside its large Protestant chapel.
How Religion Is Making a Comeback on College Campuses Douglas Jacobsen, Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen December 22, 2012

I went to the Protestant Cemetery on the penultimate day of my honeymoon, accompanied by my new husband.
Adventures of An Unromantic Biographer Daisy Hay July 20, 2010

It excommunicated Joseph Goebbels, but this was for the high crime of marrying a Protestant.
The Science of Good and Evil Sam Harris October 1, 2010

A few days ago, David Frum tweeted: “Strange thought that Barack Obama will be the only Protestant on either national ticket.”
Where Are The Southrons? Justin Green August 13, 2012

Can you tell me, sir, are you Catholic or are you Protestant?
Racism Isn’t Natural. But I Suspect Xenophobia Is. Megan McArdle October 17, 2012

In fact, if elected, he would only be the second president in history not to identify as a Protestant.
Schweitzer Stands by ‘Polygamy Commune’ Remark About the Romneys Ben Jacobs April 19, 2012

Elvis Presley was a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, as is Bill Clinton, but they are not what anyone means by “Wasp.”
The Last of the Wasps Tad Friend September 26, 2009

But is it the Catholic God, or the Protestant God, that you don’t believe in?
Racism Isn’t Natural. But I Suspect Xenophobia Is. Megan McArdle October 17, 2012


an adherent of Protestantism
(as modifier): the Protestant Church

n., adj.

1539, from German or French protestant, from Latin protestantem (nominative protestans), present participle of protestari (see protest (n.)). Originally used of German princes and free cities who declared their dissent from (“protested”) the decision of the Diet of Speyer (1529), which reversed the liberal terms allowed Lutherans in 1526.

When forced to make their choice between obedience to God and obedience to the Emperor, they were compelled to choose the former. [Thomas M. Lindsay, “A History of the Reformation,” New York, 1910]

The word was taken up by the Lutherans in Germany (Swiss and French preferred Reformed). It became the general word for “adherents of the Reformation in Germany,” then “member of any Western church outside the Roman communion;” a sense first attested in English in 1553.

In the 17c., ‘protestant’ was primarily opposed to ‘papist,’ and thus accepted by English Churchmen generally; in more recent times, being generally opposed to ‘Roman Catholic,’ or … to ‘Catholic,’ … it is viewed with disfavour by those who lay stress on the claim of the Anglican Church to be equally Catholic with the Roman. [OED]

Often contemptuous shortened form Prot is from 1725, in Irish English. Protestant (work) ethic (1926) is taken from Max Weber’s work “Die protestantische Ethik und der ‘Geist’ des Kapitalismus” (1904). Protestant Reformation attested by 1680s.

A Christian belonging to one of the three great divisions of Christianity (the other two are the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church). Protestantism began during the Renaissance as a protest against the established (Roman Catholic) church. That protest, led by Martin Luther, was called the Reformation, because it sprang from a desire to reform the church and cleanse it of corruption, such as the selling of indulgences.

Note: Protestants hold a great variety of beliefs, but they are united in rejecting the authority of the pope. Protestant groups include the Amish, the Anglican Communion, the Assemblies of God, the Baptists, Christian Science, the Congregationalists, the Lutheran Church, the Mennonites, the Methodists, the Presbyterian Church, and the Quakers.


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