What Is a Protagonist? | Definition & Examples
Protagonist is a noun meaning “principal character in a fictional work.” It can also be used more broadly to refer to the main participants in a real-life event. And it can be used to refer to the leader of a cause or a supporter of an idea, though this meaning is less common.
The word “protagonist” comes from an ancient Greek term for an actor who plays the main role in a drama. In fiction, a protagonist is traditionally a heroic figure, opposed by a hostile antagonist.
Protagonist vs. antagonist
The word protagonist comes from an ancient Greek term for an actor who plays the main role in a drama. In fiction, a protagonist is traditionally a heroic figure, opposed by a hostile antagonist.
While the word “antagonist” is typically negative when used to refer to a fictional character (generally the villain of the story), the word can also be used more generally to mean “opponent” or “adversary.” In a dispute between two or more people or groups, both (or all) sides can be described as antagonists.
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Frequently asked questions
- What is a synonym of “protagonist”?
There are numerous synonyms for the various meanings of protagonist.
Main character in a story Main participant in an event Leader or supporter of a cause Central figure Actor Advocate Hero(ine) Key figure Champion Lead(ing) character Main figure Exponent Main character Principal player Promoter Proponent Supporter Upholder