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[hi-teer-uh] /hɪˈtɪər ə/
noun, plural hetaerae
[hi-teer-ee] /hɪˈtɪər i/ (Show IPA)
a highly cultured courtesan or concubine, especially in ancient Greece.
any woman who uses her beauty and charm to obtain wealth or social position.
Also, hetaira.
Origin of hetaera
First recorded in 1810-20, hetaera is from the Greek word hetaíra (feminine) companion
Related forms
hetaeric, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hetaera
Historical Examples
  • She adopted the hetaera life, and was the "companion" of Stilpo himself.

    Greek Women Mitchell Carroll
  • The concubine has the status of a hetaera; she travels with the man, keeps his accounts, etc.

  • The Thais of that play is the most favourable delineation of the Athenian 'hetaera' in ancient literature.

    The Roman Poets of the Republic William Young Sellar
British Dictionary definitions for hetaera


noun (pl) -taerae (-ˈtɪəriː), -tairai (-ˈtaɪraɪ)
(esp in ancient Greece) a female prostitute, esp an educated courtesan
Derived Forms
hetaeric, hetairic, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Greek hetaira concubine
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hetaera

1820, "mistress," from Medieval Latin hetaera, from Greek hetaira "female companion," in Athens opposed to "lawful wife," and thus embracing everything from "concubine" to "courtesan;" fem. of hetairos "comrade, companion," from PIE *swet-aro-, suffixed form of root *s(w)e- (see idiom).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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