December 15, 2011
protagonist (noun)
\proh-TAG-uh-nist\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: the chief character in a play, novel, or story
How do you use it?
My favorite part of the book was when the protagonist slipped past the dragon while it tried to set fire to the buzzing mosquitoes.
Are you a word wiz?

The protagonist in a story usually struggles against another character. Which of the following words do you think is the name for the protagonist's opponent?

Choosing D as the correct answer isn't a struggle if you know the roots of the word. The prefix "ant-" comes from the Greek "anti," meaning "against." An antagonist is one who opposes, or is against, another. The prefix "prot-" in "protagonist," on the other hand, comes from the Greek word "pro," meaning "before, forward." The second element in both words comes ultimately from the Greek word "agon," meaning "contest." You can think of a story's protagonist and antagonist as competitors in a contest. As the story progresses, the protagonist tries to move forward, while the antagonist opposes the protagonist's effort.
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