or cour·te·zan

[kawr-tuh-zuh n, kohr-, kur-]


a prostitute or paramour, especially one associating with noblemen or men of wealth.

Origin of courtesan

1540–50; < Middle French courtisane < Italian cortigiana, literally, woman of the court, derivative of corte court Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for courtesan

prostitute, concubine, whore, paramour

Examples from the Web for courtesan

Contemporary Examples of courtesan

  • She killed herself in 1925 and she also may have been a courtesan, I discovered a few years ago.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Amy Tan: How I Write

    Noah Charney

    December 11, 2013

  • The look was inspired by Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan, and the World War I spy Mata Hari.

  • The Girl Who Loved Camellias by Julie Kavanagh The courtesan who seduced Paris—and inspired Dumas and La Traviata.

  • “I think what she is doing is an abuse of the word ‘courtesan,’” the escort says.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Vegas' Mystery Sex Blog

    Richard Abowitz

    March 24, 2010

  • Three customers have called her for appointments and, when she arrived, asked her if she was the Courtesan.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Vegas' Mystery Sex Blog

    Richard Abowitz

    March 24, 2010

Historical Examples of courtesan

  • From the first to the last moment of her reign, she combined the courtesan with the assassin.


    Scian Dubh

  • For Dawson was at this time the Mecca of the gambler and the courtesan.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • First I hated you, when I dreamed you to be but a courtesan traitress.

    The Lion's Brood

    Duffield Osborne

  • And the monk touched with his lips the forehead of the courtesan.


    Anatole France

  • In the diffident manner was nothing of the art of the courtesan.

    Sister Carrie

    Theodore Dreiser

British Dictionary definitions for courtesan




(esp formerly) a prostitute, or the mistress of a man of rank

Word Origin for courtesan

C16: from Old French courtisane, from Italian cortigiana female courtier, from cortigiano courtier, from corte court
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

Word Origin and History for courtesan

early 15c., from Middle French courtisane, from Italian cortigiana "prostitute," literally "woman of the court," fem. of cortigiano "one attached to a court," from corte "court," from Latin cortem (see court (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper