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.
  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.

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

Synonyms for prostrate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for prostrating

Contemporary Examples of prostrating

Historical Examples of prostrating

  • Prostrating himself on the ground, he asked the spirits name.

  • Prostrating himself he announced his purpose to make the attempt.

  • Prostrating themselves before Juanna and Otter they remained plunged in silence.

    The People Of The Mist

    H. Rider Haggard

  • Prostrating himself but once, and with scanty ceremony, he stood erect to deliver his tidings in frank bluff tones.


    G. J. (George John) Whyte-Melville

  • Prostrating himself before the pacha, he then rose, and folding his arms over his breast, awaited his commands in silence.

    The Pacha of Many Tales

    Frederick Marryat

British Dictionary definitions for prostrating


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
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
Derived Formsprostration, noun

Word Origin for prostrate

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 prostrating



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.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

prostrating in Science


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