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verb (used with object), pros·trat·ed, pros·trat·ing.
  1. to cast (oneself) face down on the ground in humility, submission, or adoration.
  2. to lay flat, as on the ground.
  3. to throw down level with the ground.
  4. to overthrow, overcome, or reduce to helplessness.
  5. to reduce to physical weakness or exhaustion.
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  1. lying flat or at full length, as on the ground.
  2. lying face down on the ground, as in token of humility, submission, or adoration.
  3. overthrown, overcome, or helpless: a country left prostrate by natural disasters.
  4. physically weak or exhausted.
  5. submissive.
  6. utterly dejected or depressed; disconsolate.
  7. Botany. (of a plant or stem) lying flat on the ground.
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Origin of prostrate

1350–1400; (adj.) Middle English prostrat < Latin prōstrātus, past participle of prōsternere to throw prone, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + strā-, variant stem of sternere to stretch out + -tus past participle suffix; (v.) Middle English prostraten, derivative of the adj.
Related formspros·tra·tive [pros-truh-tiv] /ˈprɒs trə tɪv/, adjectivepros·tra·tor, nounun·pros·trat·ed, adjective
Can be confusedprone prostate prostrate supineprostate prostrate


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for prostrate

Historical Examples

  • Prostrate before Emmanuel's throne, they repeated their confession.


    James Anthony Froude

  • They have said: "Prostrate yourselves, these gods are just."

  • Prostrate trunks, yards in diameter and half-decayed, lie along the ground.

  • Prostrate forms, both of man and horse, were lying upon the plain.

    The War Trail

    Mayne Reid

  • Procumbent or Prostrate, lying flat on the ground from the first.

British Dictionary definitions for prostrate


adjective (ˈprɒstreɪt)
  1. lying with the face downwards, as in submission
  2. exhausted physically or emotionally
  3. helpless or defenceless
  4. (of a plant) growing closely along the ground
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verb (prɒˈstreɪt) (tr)
  1. to bow or cast (oneself) down, as in submission
  2. to lay or throw down flat, as on the ground
  3. to make helpless or defenceless
  4. to make exhausted
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Derived Formsprostration, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Latin prōsternere to throw to the ground, from prō- before + sternere to lay low
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 prostrate


mid-14c., "lying face-down" (in submission, worship, etc.), from Latin prostratus, past participle of prosternere "strew in front, throw down," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + sternere "to spread out," from PIE root *stere- "to spread, extend, stretch out" (see structure (n.)). Figurative use from 1590s. General sense of "laid out, knocked flat" is from 1670s.

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early 15c., prostraten, "prostrate oneself," from prostrate (adj.). Related: Prostrated; prostrating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

prostrate in Science


  1. Growing flat along the ground. Creeping jenny, pennyroyal, and many species of ivy have a prostrate growth habit.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.