Definition of hetaera in English:


(also hetaira)


  • A courtesan or mistress, especially an educated one in ancient Greece:

    ‘the scene shows the birth of Aphrodite from the sea, and a hetaira, piping’
    • ‘The Barburen and both the Vermeers depict musical performances. Was musical skill expected of Dutch courtesans as it was of Greek hetairai; or was the women's deft play on instruments a bawdy symbol?’
    • ‘In ancient Greece female professional musicians were usually slaves and prostitutes, such as the highly educated hetairai who often sang and accompanied themselves on the lyre.’
    • ‘A number of the women had time to develop their minds in between flaunting their bodies, more like geisha girls, or the hetaerae of ancient Greece, than modern-day porn stars.’
    • ‘In the learned, Grecophile culture of the Medici pope's court, courtesans were regarded as latter-day reincarnations of hetairai, the women who entertained men at the symposium in ancient Greece.’
    • ‘This has been a traditional marketing angle in the sex industry, dating back to Roman times when the hetaerae, or foreign women, commanded the highest prices for sexual services.’


From Greek hetaira, feminine of hetairos companion.