cour·​te·​san | \ ˈkȯr-tə-zən How to pronounce courtesan (audio) , -ˌzan also ˈkər-, -ˌzän; especially British ˌkȯ-tə-ˈzan\

Definition of courtesan

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

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Examples of courtesan in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

As the maid in Manet’s Olympia, Laure is presenting a large bouquet of flowers sent by a client of the naked courtesan who lies on a flotilla of white cushions. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, "Painter Elizabeth Colomba Is Giving Art’s Hidden Figures Their Close-Up," 10 Oct. 2018 The gorgeously gilded opera house was a perfect environment to watch the trials and tragedy of the courtesan Violetta Valéry. New York Times, "The Sights and Smells of Sicily’s Second City," 11 May 2018 And none of them are playing scientists, martial artists, assassins, or courtesans — the kinds of roles Asian and Asian-American actors are frequently reduced to playing. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Crazy Rich Asians: 5 things to know about the effervescent rom-com," 10 Aug. 2018 Casanova finally met his match in London, in the person of the courtesan Marianne de Charpillon. Cate Mcquaid,, "MFA’s ‘Casanova’ a voluptuous look at a notorious voluptuary," 6 July 2018 Catherine Deneuve plays the former courtesan Odette de Crecy, with Emmanuelle Béart as her daughter Gilberte. J. Hoberman, New York Times, "Revived and Still Luxurious: Raúl Ruiz’s Search for Proust," 8 Feb. 2018 In Strong’s assured performance, the aristocratic, apolitical Lysistrata cycles through grief, rage, rebellion and transcendence as her protest movement unites Athens’ bifurcated female populace — first her fellow housewives and then the courtesans. Philip Brandes,, "In 'Lysistrata Unbound,' the women go to war against war," 22 June 2018 French soprano Norah Amsellem returns as Parisian courtesan, Violetta Valery. Rasputin Todd,, "Things to do this week in Cincinnati: June 11-17," 11 June 2018 John Tracey is more fleshed-out as courtesan Émilie, and Maurice Emmanuel Parent is assured as Valmont’s valet Azolan. Jeffrey Gantz,, "Sex as a weapon in Nora’s all-male ‘Liaisons’," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'courtesan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of courtesan

1533, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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 — see court entry 1

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Time Traveler for courtesan

The first known use of courtesan was in 1533

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English Language Learners Definition of courtesan

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

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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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