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From Latin prōstitutus, past participle of prōstituō, from pro- (for, before) +‎ statuō (to set up, to erect).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɒstɪtjuːt/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɑːstətuːt/
  • (file)


prostitute (plural prostitutes)

  1. A person, especially a woman, who has sexual intercourse or engages in other sexual activity for payment.
    Synonyms: sex worker; see also Thesaurus:prostitute
    Hyponyms: see Thesaurus:prostitute
    • 2012, Kelly Olson, Dress and the Roman Woman: Self-Presentation and Society (page 50)
      Unfortunately, there is to my knowledge no visual evidence for the dress of the Roman prostitute, but the literary sources present us with a range of prostitute clothing (from rich accoutrements all the way down to nothing), []
  2. (derogatory) A person who engages in sexual activity with many people.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:promiscuous woman, Thesaurus:promiscuous man
  3. A person who does, or offers to do, an activity for money, despite personal dislike or dishonour.
    Synonym: sellout

Usage notes

  • Some speakers consider prostitutes (sex workers) to be female by default, and thus use "male prostitute" to refer to a man doing the same job.




prostitute (third-person singular simple present prostitutes, present participle prostituting, simple past and past participle prostituted)

  1. (transitive, usually reflexive) To perform sexual activity for money.
  2. (transitive) To make another person, or organization, prostitute themselves.
    • Bible, Leviticus xix. 29
      Do not prostitute thy daughter.
  3. (transitive, derogatory) To use one's talents in return for money or fame.
  4. (figuratively) To exploit for base purposes; to whore.
    Yet again a commercial firm had prostituted a traditional song by setting an advertising jingle to its tune.
    • 1740, John Dyer, “The Ruins of Rome. A Poem.”, in Poems. [...] Viz. I. Grongar Hill. II. The Ruins of Rome. III. The Fleece, in Four Books, London: Printed by John Hughs, for Messrs. R[obert] and J[ames] Dodsley, [], published 1759, OCLC 991281870, pages 42–43:
      Tyrian garbs, / Neptunian Albion's high teſtaceous food [i.e., oysters], / And flavour'd Chian wines with incenſe fum'd / To ſlake Patrician thirſt: for theſe, their rights / In the vile ſtreets they proſtitute to ſale; / Their ancient rights, their dignities, their laws, / Their native glorious freedom.

Related terms




prostitute f

  1. plural of prostituta




  1. vocative masculine singular of prōstitūtus