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

The story of the lascivious Duke, who preys on dying courtesan-entertainer Satine, who in turn falls for starving writer-artist Christian, is the lowbrow framework on which the film suspended its anachronistic pop score. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "Will you love ‘Moulin Rouge!’ as a stage musical? Well, you’ll certainly fall in like.," 25 July 2019 In the film, Kidman portrays Satine, the courtesan and star of the famed Moulin Rouge cabaret in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris. Christian Holub,, "Nicole Kidman pays visit to Moulin Rouge! on Broadway," 10 Aug. 2019 New Orleans East enigma Library shelves sag with stories that New Orleans likes to tell about itself: pirates and courtesans, voodoo rituals and parlor parties. Lynell George, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Sarah M. Broom shows her New Orleans in ‘The Yellow House’," 9 Aug. 2019 From his teens onward, Simenon had enjoyed the company of prostitutes, and there’s rarely an unsympathetic streetwalker, call girl, bar girl, dance-hall girl, mistress, or courtesan to be found in his books. Vince Passaro, Harper's magazine, "Maigret All Day," 22 July 2019 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

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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Statistics for courtesan

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

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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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Comments on courtesan

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


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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