Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

courtesan

play
noun cour·te·san \ˈkȯr-tə-zən, -ˌzan also ˈkər-, -ˌzän; especially British ˌkȯr-tə-ˈzan\

Simple Definition of courtesan

  • : a woman who has sex with rich or important men in exchange for money : a prostitute who has sex with wealthy and powerful men

Full Definition of courtesan

  1. :  a prostitute with a courtly, wealthy, or upper-class clientele

Examples of courtesan

  1. <the protagonist of the novel is a composite of several real-life courtesans who plied their trade among the decadent aristocracy>



Origin of courtesan

Middle French courtisane, from northern Italian dialect form of Italian cortigiana woman courtier, feminine of cortigiano courtier, from corte court, from Latin cohort-, cohors


First Known Use: 1533



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up courtesan? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez duvet spindrift kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ