protagonist

[proh-tag-uh-nist]
noun
1.
the leading character, hero, or heroine of a drama or other literary work.
2.
a proponent for or advocate of a political cause, social program, etc.
3.
the leader or principal person in a movement, cause, etc.
4.
the first actor in ancient Greek drama, who played not only the main role, but also other roles when the main character was offstage. Compare deuteragonist, tritagonist.
5.
Physiology, agonist.

Origin:
1665–75; < Greek prōtagōnistḗs actor who plays the first part, literally, first combatant, equivalent to prôt(os) first + agōnistḗs one who contends for a prize, combatant, actor. See proto-, antagonist

protagonism, noun

antagonist, proponent, protagonist.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
protagonist (prəʊˈtæɡənɪst)
 
n
1.  the principal character in a play, story, etc
2.  a supporter, esp when important or respected, of a cause, political party, etc
 
[C17: from Greek prōtagōnistēs, from prōtos first + agōnistēs actor]
 
pro'tagonism
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

protagonist
1671, "principal character in a story, drama, etc.," from Gk. protagonistes "actor who plays the chief or first part," from protos "first" (see proto-) + agonistes "actor, competitor," from agon "contest" (see act). Meaning "leading person in any cause or contest" is from 1889.
Mistaken sense of "advocate, supporter" (1935) is from misreading of Gk. protos as L. pro- "for."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
protagonist [(proh-tag-uh-nist)]

The principal character in a literary work. Hamlet, for example, is the protagonist of the play by William Shakespeare that bears his name.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

protagonist

in ancient Greek drama, the first or leading actor. The poet Thespis is credited with having invented tragedy when he introduced this first actor into Greek drama, which formerly consisted only of choric dancing and recitation. The protagonist stood opposite the chorus and engaged in an interchange of questions and answers. According to Aristotle in his Poetics, Aeschylus brought in a second actor, or deuteragonist, and presented the first dialogue between two characters. Aeschylus' younger rival, Sophocles, then added a third actor, the tritagonist, and was able to write more complex, more natural dialogue. That there were only three actors did not limit the number of characters to three because one actor would play more than one character

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
His beautifully crafted story puts uranium into its complex context as a key
  protagonist on the world stage.
The protagonist is overcome with joy when he finds a spider.
In the final scene, the protagonist prepares to fight the alpha wolf.
The protagonist tying and retying the knot of his own fate.
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