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[pros-ti-toot, -tyoot] /ˈprɒs tɪˌtut, -ˌtyut/
a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money; whore; harlot.
a man who engages in sexual acts for money.
a person who willingly uses his or her talent or ability in a base and unworthy way, usually for money.
verb (used with object), prostituted, prostituting.
to sell or offer (oneself) as a prostitute.
to put to any base or unworthy use:
to prostitute one's talents.
Origin of prostitute
1520-30; < Latin prōstitūta, noun use of feminine of prōstitūtus, past participle of prōstituere to expose (for sale), equivalent to prō- pro-1 + -stitū-, combining form of variant stem of statuere to cause to stand + -tus past participle suffix; see status
Related forms
prostitutor, noun
unprostituted, adjective
1. call girl, streetwalker, courtesan; trollop, strumpet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for prostitute


a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money
a man who engages in such activity, esp in homosexual practices
a person who offers his talent or work for unworthy purposes
verb (transitive)
to offer (oneself or another) in sexual intercourse for money
to offer (a person, esp oneself, or a person's talent) for unworthy purposes
Derived Forms
prostitution, noun
prostitutor, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin prōstituere to expose to prostitution, from prō- in public + statuere to cause to stand
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 prostitute

1520s, "to offer to indiscriminate sexual intercourse (usually in exchange for money)," from Latin prostitutus, past participle of prostituere "to expose to prostitution, expose publicly," from pro- "before" (see pro-) + statuere "cause to stand, establish," from PIE root *sta- "to stand," with derivatives meaning "place or thing that is standing" (see stet). Related: Prostituted; prostituting.

The notion of "sex for hire" is not inherent in the etymology, which rather suggests one "exposed to lust" or sex "indiscriminately offered." However, this is now almost the official European term for the institution, e.g. German prostituierte, Russian prostitutka, etc. Figurative sense (of abilities, etc.) is from 1570s. Of men, in reference to homosexual acts, from 1886 (in form prostitution); phrase male prostitute attested by 1948.


"harlot, woman who offers her body indiscriminately" (usually for money)," 1610s, from Latin prostituta "prostitute," fem. of prostitutus, past participle of prostituere (see prostitute (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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