[ hi-teer-uh ]
/ hɪˈtɪər ə /

noun, plural he·tae·rae [hi-teer-ee] /hɪˈtɪər i/.

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 formshe·tae·ric, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hetaera

  • She adopted the hetaera life, and was the "companion" of Stilpo himself.

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

British Dictionary definitions for hetaera


hetaira (hɪˈtaɪrə)

/ (hɪˈtɪərə) /

noun plural -taerae (-ˈtɪəriː) or -tairai (-ˈtaɪraɪ)

(esp in ancient Greece) a female prostitute, esp an educated courtesan
Derived Formshetaeric or hetairic, adjective

Word Origin for hetaera

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

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