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‘To prostitute’ is derived from a composition of two Latin words: (preposition) pro and (verb) statuere. A literal translation therefore would be: ‘to expose’, ‘to place up front’.


  • 1. a. A woman who engages in sexual activity in return for payment, esp. as a means of livelihood; (formerly also) any promiscuous woman, a harlot.
b. A boy kept by a man as a sexual partner; a catamite. Obs. (but cf. sense 1c).
c. A man who engages in sexual (esp. homosexual) activity in return for payment. Freq. as male prostitute
  • 2. fig. and in extended use.
a. A person entirely or abjectly devoted to another; a ‘slave’. (In early examples apparently without pejorative connotations.)
b. A person who acts in a debased or corrupt way for profit or advantage; a person who undertakes any demeaning or dishonourable act, office, or connection for personal gain.