In Protest of/for/Grammar

Off-topic … but where did the formulation in protest of come from?

Standard English usage is (or always used to be) that one protests at or about something, not of it.

Is this another front in the asymmetric American war on Prepositions?


I thought it was “in an act of protest against,” and “an act of” was elipsed.

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If so it would have said ‘in protest against’ not ‘in protest of’

(And I’ll happily add ‘against’ as one of the prepositions protest works with, but never ‘of’.)

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It does seem that “of” is used as a kind of catch-all preposition when there is a lack of clarity about which preposition should be used.

For a sentence starting with, “They marched in protest,” the most natural choice for me would be “against.” Otherwise, I would just use protest as a transitive verb and say, “They marched to protest direct object.”

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Ignorance that could be easily resolved with a quick internet search.

Ignorance and laziness.

I have never approved of protest being used like that without a preposition.

They marched to protest pineapple on pizza.

Are they protesting for or against pineapple on pizza? Protest always demands a preposition in that formulation!


You can protest FOR something, where the word protest is being used as a synonym for march or demonstration (which seems to have become entirely acceptable). I guess this is where it is being used as a noun not a verb.

People go on protests FOR their rights on many occasions. Where ‘go on protests’ is the usage as a substitute for march or demonstration.

It may be far more common (and correct) to protest against, at, or about something, where the true sense of the verb protest is being deployed. But protesting for something not unheard of. And it still makes sense. Protest OF something makes no sense in this context.

A march or protest in support of something is a totally different usage/context and no amount of lenience for alleged or assumed elision excuses the usage ‘in protest of’.

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This blog posts discusses it in a Brit/American comparison:

Another discussion here:

“In protest to”?

“In protest TO!!!”

Are they f****** MAD?

(apparently the posters on that thread put them right on that)

And I’d like to know the timeline of that ‘survey’ in the first post. I bet if it had been 10 20, 30 years ago the result would have been different. In protest OF seems to be a very recent US American thing only (and I blame the internet - ignorant people use it there and other ignorant people see it and think it is correct and we end up with statistical surveys like the one in that first post you link to - and I don’'t much care for whatever arcane evidence anyone comes up with that ‘in protest of’ was used on The Mayflower or in the 1920s or whenever - it is just plain wrong and offends my ear.)


But the verb here is “go.” It feels to me that a protest itself can be for something, but it feels odd when it’s used as a verb. They protested for higher wages" is probably correct, but it feels like it could be worded better…

We should make a new topic for this. This is fun.

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Is perfectly cromulent usage.

I once went on a march which was a protest for the right to protest (see Bristol in the past week or so as another example of this, perhaps). Many people in history have no doubt protested for the right to do all sorts of things.

(With some protest, I must now go and do some work. Back later.)


If someone wants to start a topic entitled “The American War on Prepositions (and other abstract nouns, such as drugs and terror)” it could run and run and run.

(“Two nations divided by a common language” - and now a third one born on the internet of illiteracy and ignorance. Something about lawns, too.)


Related to your already-off-topic War of Prepositions, I’ve always been annoyed by the British usage of the word “of” when telling the time. “What time is it, mate?” “It’s fifteen of three.” WTH, people? I can make out that fifteen refers to minutes, but “of” doesn’t tell me if that means fifteen minutes TO three, or fifteen minutes AFTER three.

“Of” makes this a directionless vector, meaningless in this context. As Churchill [never] said in reference to ending a sentence with a preposition, “[this is] offensive impertinence, up with which I will not put.”

The only plausible explanation I can invent is that it may be an extremely lazy contraction of the word “after”.


Can you really protest for something though? You can protest to demand something, but if you’re marching in support of something, it feels like that’s a demonstration instead of a protest.

Wait…march in support of…I think that’s where the “of” came from!

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The ever-reliable Wikipedia gives the definition of protest as: " A protest (also called a demonstration , remonstration or remonstrance ) is a public expression of objection, disapproval or dissent towards an idea or action, typically a political one."

I feel like there must be some other word for a demonstration in support/approval of something. Rally perhaps? Or has the usage of protest changed recently?

Perhaps its an affectation that’s gotten popular.

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De praepositio non est disputandum.


What about over?

You also see occasional usage of the form “people protest over the passge of unpopular bill”
Where over is used to mean due to. This also lacks the needed directionality provided by “against” or “for” or “in favor/opposition of” (which I would consider fine as it conveys the intent of the protest)


I have never heard or seen this usage as a Briton. I’d say if it was used it was archaic. Been reading too much Georgian fiction have we? :wink:


What British people have you been speaking to? I’ve never heard that usage.

Maybe it’s a regional thing?

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That is protest as a noun. It is also a verb.
To protest for/against/about/at/over etc.
A protest for/against/about/at/over

@Scientist - yes, over is another valid one. As, technically, is under, but only in a positional sense (‘they protested under the auspices of the Anti-protest League’, or ‘they protested under the bridge’)

But never of!

And protest is a different noun from a protestation. :wink: One might well have a protestation of (e.g. innocence) but protestation is never a verb, of course.