Noun, pl. proteins
1. Large biological molecule consisting of one or more chains of amino acids. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within living organisms, including catalyzing metabolic reactions, replicating DNA, responding to stimuli, and transporting molecules from one location to another. Proteins differ from one another primarily in their sequence of amino acids, which is dictated by the nucleotide sequence of their genes, and which usually results in folding of the protein into a specific three-dimensional structure that determines its activity. (wikipedia.org)
2. (Biochemistry) Any of numerous large, complex naturally-produced molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids, in which the amino acid groups are held together by peptide bonds. (wiktionary.org)
3. (Nutrition) One of three major classes of food or source of food energy (4 kcal/gram) abundant in animal-derived foods (ie: meat) and some vegetables, such as legumes. see carbohydrate and fat for the other two major classes. (wiktionary.org)
4. Any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds that consist of large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, esp. as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies. (Google Dictionary)
5. Any of a large group of nitrogenous organic compounds that are essential constituents of living cells; consist of polymers of amino acids; essential in the diet of animals for growth and for repair of tissues; can be obtained from meat and eggs and milk and legumes. (wordnetweb.princeton.edu)
Word origin: From French protéine, coined 1838 by Dutch chemist Gerhard Johan Mulder (1802-1880), perhaps on suggestion of Berzelius, from Greek proteios “the first quality,” from protos “first” + -ine.