Hi, I'm reviewing an academic paper written in English by non native speakers. They use the word "protagonized", supposedly as the past tense of the verb "to protagonize". I said, repeatedly, that there is no such word in English, but they insist the paper has been proofread by a native speaker who says "protagonized" is fine. Is "to protagonize" an English verb?



I've never in my life heard or read this term.



Maybe they were trying to coin a word that is the opposite of antagonize.

A protagonist is the main character in a drama. It is a noun, not a verb.

The verb had a verb brief life as a website for creative writers.


Google NGRAM viewer shows some usages (the word is in italics) in Spanish-related texts which Anglicise the Spanish verb, treating it as a calque. But this did not take hold in a broader sense. It is used in a few formal texts on dramatization, meaning to "transform someone or something into a protagonist." That follows the pattern of adding the suffix -ize to a noun or adjective to form a verb. e.g computerize, Africanize, atomize, commercialize, finalize, utilize, globalize, modernize, sanitize, minimize, tenderize and so on.

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car walk 325Is "to protagonize" an English verb?

About 70% of the time when I want to say "No, that is not a word", I look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary, and darn it, it is. Not this time. "Protagonize" is not a recognized word, and it is not even a very good nonce word because I can't imagine what it might mean, mixing positive and negative as it does.

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"mixing positive and negative as it does."

Agonist comes from a greek word that means "to compete for a prize"

The term "agonize" actually means arduous effort toward a goal or end. Not literal pain like many mistake it for meaning these days.

So "protagonize" would simply mean a positive or helpful act that furthers one's arduous efforts toward a goal.