Definition of courtesan in English:



  • A prostitute, especially one with wealthy or upper-class clients.

    ‘they diverted their remaining funds into frequenting courtesans’
    • ‘She is not a realistic prostitute, but a courtesan, a prominent figure in Indian literature.’
    • ‘Nobody in Japan would dream of confusing top Gion geisha with high - class courtesans, let alone prostitutes, the myth that continues to prevail about geisha in the West.’
    • ‘Punning on the meaning of grande as tall or as grand in the social sense, the seventeenth-century commentator noted the reference to the courtesans and prostitutes of Venice.’
    • ‘In our society, women are condemned to be either courtesans or whores.’
    • ‘Geishas broke apart from courtesans / prostitutes sometime around the 1500s- 1600s, so the two are somewhat similar.’


Mid 16th century: from French courtisane, from obsolete Italian cortigiana, feminine of cortigiano courtier, from corte (see court).