• Etymology: Proteus, legendary sea god in the service of Neptune who had the power of assuming different shapes (from Latin, from Greek Promacrteus) + English -an
1 : characteristic of or resembling Proteus : capable of change : exceedingly variable
2 : readily assuming different shapes or forms
3 : capable of acting many different roles
4 : displaying great diversity : possessed of infinite variety
Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (10 Feb. 2007).
A Summary of the Confrontation Between
Proteus and Agamemnon in Homer's The Odyssey
--Espy, Willard R. O Thou Improper, Thou Uncommon Noun: An Etymology of Words That Once were Names. New York: Clarkson N. Potter 1978.