Definition of prostitute in US English:



  • 1A person, in particular a woman, who engages in sexual activity for payment.

    • ‘Paradoxically, as prostitutes the children often fall victim to the very legal system that should be protecting them.’
    • ‘Among incarcerated women, childhood sexual abuse is significantly higher in women prostitutes than those that were not engaged in prostitution.’
    • ‘He had, once he had achieved adolescence, moved from prostitute to prostitute, whore to whore, but he had never yet known love.’
    • ‘The arrested woman was detained in connection with an allegation of controlling prostitutes for gain and also on suspicion of a violent assault on another woman.’
    • ‘Others attended the ‘circuses’ in which prostitutes performed sexual stunts.’
    • ‘Yet for decades it's been serving up buoyant romantic comedies about prostitutes both actual and suspected.’
    • ‘It was just pimps, speed freaks, prostitutes and people who lived on the street.’
    • ‘The people surveyed might be prostitutes, who have a financial incentive not to disclose.’
    • ‘Another important point that needs to be considered is the reason why people use prostitutes.’
    • ‘The experiment has had its critics, including prostitutes who claimed it gave the state and police more control over them.’
    • ‘There are various kinds of people who see prostitutes, be it as a one-off thing or on a regular basis.’
    • ‘The law enforcement officers have taken a back seat giving these prostitutes the leeway to do their business undisturbed.’
    • ‘Sailor mongering was rife in the 19th century when brothels sent prostitutes laden with booze to lure sailors off their ships as they made their way to harbor.’
    • ‘He outlined a number of allegations involving unnamed judges, with claims of the soliciting of young male prostitutes, and misuse of Commonwealth cars.’
    • ‘Some 10,000 beggars, homeless people, prostitutes and so-called illegal immigrants are being rounded up and forcibly moved.’
    • ‘Such laws effectively deny prostitutes the right to work indoors in a warm, safe, and clean place.’
    • ‘He was hanging out with the tax collectors, the criminals, the prostitutes and the people who were in trouble.’
    • ‘The idea of the war between morals and instincts materializes in the efforts of a prostitute who wants to change her ways.’
    • ‘Does the ability of someone like me to prostitute myself on my own terms make prostitution, generally, okay?’
    • ‘In the process, many of the residents who live there have been reduced to statistics, or at best portrayed as stereotypes of addicts, prostitutes and poor people.’
    whore, sex worker, call girl, white slave
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person who misuses their talents or who sacrifices their self-respect for the sake of personal or financial gain.
      ‘careerist political prostitutes’
      • ‘During the coming months there will be many political prostitutes and opportunists emerging like crabs from the muddy filth of deception and greed.’
      • ‘Some critics would be quick to give him the obvious tag of a ‘political prostitute.’’
      • ‘I want to see philosopher kings, not political prostitutes pandering to special interests.’
      • ‘Or is this essentially a squabble among the political prostitutes of corporate America over the best method for conducting their sordid business?’


[with object]
  • 1Offer (someone) for sexual activity in exchange for payment.

    ‘although she was paid $15 to join a man at his table, she never prostituted herself’
    • ‘Twenty-one girls in this study were prostituted for family-related reasons.’
    • ‘He also describes him as a cruel and wicked leader who prostituted his daughter when he ran short of money.’
    • ‘I couldn't believe my own mother made a plan to prostitute her daughter.’
    • ‘She ran away at age 13 because she was ‘in love’; she prostituted for the first time at age 15.’
    • ‘Equally, we have numerous heroin addicts living the most horrific lifestyles from injecting in their groin to prostituting their bodies.’
    • ‘Many are poor women who prostitute to earn a living.’
    • ‘Eventually brought to the UK, she was prostituted and beaten for six months before escaping.’
    • ‘‘I have found melancholy testimony to establish one general fact, viz., that boys are prostituted to the lust of old convicts,’ Dwight described.’
    • ‘He prostituted his wife and forced his children to beg to support his drug habit.’
    • ‘Within months she was a heroin addict, pregnant with their first child, and at his behest prostituting herself in Las Vegas to alcoholic gamblers to support both their habits.’
    • ‘Thousands of teenage girls are being prostituted by organized pimp rings.’
    • ‘The coupling had been arranged by another 13-year-old girl - a pimp, essentially - who was prostituting her friend.’
    • ‘Why woman feel the need to prostitute their bodies, or why men feel the need to avail themselves of this service?’
    • ‘You can't tell me that people who make $2000 a night have nothing else to do than to prostitute for additional pin money.’
    • ‘They were so dirt poor that they actually considered prostituting me, especially considering the fact that it was impossible for me to have kids.’
    • ‘The women in our sample who were prostituting were also more likely to use drugs to decrease their feelings of guilt and sexual distress than the women who were not prostituting.’
    • ‘The filmmakers also venture to the Kafue Flats where 10,000 nomads also grapple with the virus, so poor they are often forced to prostitute in exchange for fish.’
    • ‘The local bartender runs a brothel, prostituting his own wife for kicks.’
    • ‘An Oakland organization runs a nonresidential trauma and recovery center for girls who've been prostituted.’
    1. 1.1 Put (oneself or one's talents) to an unworthy or corrupt use or purpose for the sake of personal or financial gain.
      ‘his willingness to prostitute himself to the worst instincts of the electorate’
      • ‘The irony is that there was probably no need for the premier to prostitute himself in this way; he would have probably got there anyhow and kept his integrity intact.’
      • ‘It should never be prostituted for aggression or injustice.’
      • ‘If she does, it will not be because she has prostituted her talents like most modern female ‘pop stars’.’
      • ‘And for the rest of us who prostitute ourselves in non-sexual ways?’
      • ‘We cannot allow our country to be prostituted in this way.’
      • ‘The commercial appeal of pop or heavy metal was not for him, although, I'm sure, even now he could turn a coin or two by squashing his feelings and prostituting his guitar work.’
      • ‘Now we have had offers but have rejected them because we like being one of the few medical journals not prostituted by the pharmaceutical industry.’
      • ‘‘People think illustrators are somehow selling out, prostituting their art for commercial reasons,’ she says.’
      • ‘He also accuses administrators of prostituting their institutions by using invalid methods to sell the institution to politicians and the public.’
      • ‘The wilderness towns gaily prostitute themselves to such people.’
      • ‘You have prostituted your profession and you will pay for it.’
      • ‘The day-to-day experiences of persons who are prostituting themselves are equally bleak.’
      • ‘Such degrading practices of prostituting a martial art were repugnant to me so I avoided the term jujitsu and adopted judo in its stead.’
      • ‘He also thinks (as I do not) that webloggers won't prostitute themselves for attention.’
      • ‘In his anger, he had accused her of prostituting her brilliant mind, wasting her intellectual gifts.’
      • ‘League of Ireland clubs could then prostitute themselves at the feet of these new owners of British clubs and say they can also own a club here for just a few hundred thousand.’
      • ‘Instead they prostitute that talent and that attraction.’
      • ‘Dads who are driving the hard bargain for their kids, selling their talents off to the highest bidder, acting as pimps to prostitute their children's talents.’
      • ‘It's hard not to sneer at a movie like this, which prostitutes every aspect of the creative process in an all-out attempt to lure viewers into the box office.’
      • ‘It is prostituting itself for the armed wing of corporate globalisation.’
      betray, sacrifice, profane, sell, sell out, debase, degrade, demean, devalue, cheapen, lower, misapply, misemploy, misuse, pervert, squander, waste
      View synonyms


Mid 16th century (as a verb): from Latin prostitut- ‘exposed publicly, offered for sale’, from the verb prostituere, from pro- ‘before’ + statuere ‘set up, place’.