from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The principal clerk in certain courts of law.
  • n. Roman Catholic Church One of a college of 12 ecclesiastics charged with the registry of important pontifical proceedings.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A chief clerk of one of various courts of law.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A chief notary or clerk.
  • n. Formerly, a chief clerk in the Court of King's Bench and in the Court of Common Pleas, now superseded by the master.
  • n. A register or chief clerk of a court in certain States of the United States.
  • n. Formerly, one who had the charge of writing the acts of the martyrs, and the circumstances of their death; now, one of twelve persons, constituting a college in the Roman Curia, whose office is to register pontifical acts and to make and preserve the official record of beatifications.
  • n. The chief secretary of the patriarch of Constantinople.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A chief notary or clerk.
  • n. Specifically — Originally, the chief of the notaries; now, in the Roman Catholic Church, one of a college of twelve (formerly seven) ecclesiastics charged with the registry of acts, proceedings relating to canonization, etc.
  • n. In the Gr. Ch., the chief secretary of the patriarch of Constantinople, who superintends the secular-work of the provinces.
  • n. In law, a chief clerk of court; formerly, a chief clerk in the Court of Common Pleas and in the King's Bench.


Middle English prothonotarie, from Medieval Latin prōthonotārius, from Late Latin prōtonotārius : Greek prōto-, proto- + Latin notārius, secretary (from nota, mark; see gnō- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English prothonotarie, from Medieval Latin prothonotarius, from Late Latin protonotarius, from Ancient Greek  (proto-) + Latin notarius ("secretary") (Wiktionary)


  • The prothonotary was a suave and diplomatic elder who seemed keenly interested in the small monk's life.

    A Canticle for Leibowitz

  • That's how residents of this area near the tip of Southern Illinois (about two hours southwest of Evansville) describe the Cache River State Natural Area with its wetlands, ancient cypress trees and a yellow songbird known as a prothonotary warbler. Stories

  • The prothonotary is the custodian of civil court records.

    News/local from

  • A prothonotary is a judicial officer who supervises scheduling and evidence in cases that are later heard before a judge.

    Top Stories - Google News

  • U.S. President Harry S. Truman was introduced to a prothonotary during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh in 1948.

    Matthew Yglesias » For Less Voting

  • It suggests you'd abandon a friend who'd just fallen onto the subway tracks if you had a prothonotary warbler in your sights, not that the little yellow and gray birds are known to frequent the no. 6 line.

    Holding the Fort at Pale Maleland

  • “Peter Martyr was secretary of the prothonotary under Pope Innocent the Eighth, archpriest of Ocana under Pope Adrian the Sixth,” Chance added.

    The Faculty Club

  • Isn't it a shame when one breed gets chased away by another, that happened with us with the prothonotary warbler which nested one year and then was chased out by a bluebird the following year.

    Birds in the garden

  • Among the numerous bird species found here are the prothonotary warbler, white-eyed vireo, wood duck, yellow-billed cuckoo, Louisiana waterthrush, and all the species found in the Southeastern Mixed Forest.

    Lower Mississippi Riverine Forest Province (Bailey)

  • -- When local Democrats gathered at the Western-themed Dodge City Restaurant here in late July, Marilyn Levin asked Sen. Arlen Specter if he would campaign with her as she runs for prothonotary, a county court post.

    Specter Faces Democratic Primary Challenge


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  • See citation on pileated

    March 31, 2011

  • Well, at least someone remembers my rank.

    January 21, 2010

  • reesetee is the prothonotary of fattiehead. As can be seen here.

    January 21, 2010

  • Also a warbler. ;-)

    December 29, 2007

  • i was giving an interview and the reporter asked whether a service would be available at her local prothonotary (she was in Pennsylvania, USA). i was so tickled that i repeated the word at least five times during our chat.

    n. - The principal clerk in certain courts of law.

    December 22, 2007