• (British) IPA: /ˈpɹɒstɪtjuːt/, /ˈpɹɒstɪtʃuːt/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈpɹɑːstətuːt/

prostitute (prostitutes, present participle prostituting; past and past participle prostituted)

  1. (transitive, reflexive) To offer (oneself or someone else) for sexual activity in exchange for money. [from 16th c.]
    • 1611, Bible (Authorized Version), Leviticus xix. 29:
      Do not prostitute thy daughter.
  2. (transitive, derogatory) To sacrifice (oneself, one's talents etc.) in return for profit or other advantage; to exploit for base purposes.
Synonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Adjective


  1. (obsolete) Debased, corrupt; seeking personal gain by dishonourable means. [16th–19th c.]
    • 1791, Thomas Paine, Rights of Man:
      [H]e speaks a languages that merits not reply, and which can only excite contempt for his prostitute principles, or pity for his ignorance.
  2. Taking part in promiscuous sexual activity, licentious; i later, chiefly as attributive use of noun that is a prostitute. [from 16th c.]
    • 2008, Niki Adams, Lisa Longstaff, The Guardian, letters, 23 February:
      They rightly say that attacks against prostitute women are common and that it's only when five are murdered in one place that it starts to provoke debate.
  3. (obsolete) Exposed, subjected (to something shameful). [16th–18th c.]
    • 1651, Thomas Hobbes, Philosophicall rudiments concerning government and society:
      As a matter of ease, exposed and prostitute to every Mother-wit, and to be attained without any great care or study.

prostitute (plural prostitutes)

  1. Any person (especially a woman) who has sexual intercourse or engages in other sexual activity for payment, especially as a means of livelihood. [from 18th c.]
    Synonyms: sex worker, Thesaurus:prostitute
    hypo en
    1. A woman who has sexual intercourse or engages in other sexual activity for payment, especially as a means of livelihood. [from 17th c.]
      • 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. A person who does, or offers to do, a demeaning or dishonourable activity for money or personal gain; someone who acts in a dishonourable way for personal advantage. [from 17th c.]
    Synonyms: sellout
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