pros·​ti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌprä-stə-ˈtü-shən How to pronounce prostitution (audio) , -ˈtyü- \

Definition of prostitution

1 : the act or practice of engaging in promiscuous sexual relations especially for money
2 : the state of being prostituted : debasement

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Synonyms for prostitution


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Examples of prostitution in a Sentence

She was arrested for prostitution. Writing commercials was a prostitution of his talents.
Recent Examples on the Web To shine a light on this outrage, muckraking newspaperman W.T. Stead paid five pounds for a 13-year-old girl and then produced a sensational four-part exposé of juvenile prostitution in London. Washington Post, "The Age of Decadence: A History of Britain, 1880-1914," 5 May 2021 These were women who had what was considered deviant behavior, which included homelessness, alcoholism and prostitution. Gwen Strauss, Time, "‘She Never Talked About the War.’ Uncovering the Daring Stories of Women Who Resisted the Nazis in Occupied France," 4 May 2021 In recent months, the city and state of New York have moved to decriminalize prostitution. Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica, "How NYPD’s Vice Unit Got Prostitution Policing All Wrong," 3 May 2021 The change is part of a broader move halting arrests for low-level offenses, including prostitution and trespassing. Justin Fenton,, "Can Baltimore end the War on Drugs? As Marilyn Mosby takes lead on decriminalization, few public health alternatives are in place," 30 Apr. 2021 With few employment opportunities available to them, many transgender women in Honduras — rejected by their families, the church and society at large — turn to prostitution. New York Times, "‘They Call It Social Cleansing’: Court May Force Honduras to Better Protect Trans People," 29 Apr. 2021 Vance described the decision to end prosecutions as an outgrowth of the office’s efforts to connect individuals arrested for prostitution with social services rather than pursue criminal charges. NBC News, "Manhattan will stop prosecuting sex workers, marking 'monumental' step for trans advocates," 23 Apr. 2021 In the 50s Benicia developed a reputation as a wide open town with gambling dives and prostitution. Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, "Fame and glory? Benicia's been there, done that and it's doing just fine," 23 Apr. 2021 Manhattan will no longer prosecute prostitution and unlicensed massages, District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. announced Wednesday. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, "Manhattan will stop prosecuting prostitution and dismiss past cases," 22 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prostitution.' 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 prostitution

1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for prostitution

Time Traveler

The first known use of prostitution was in 1553

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Statistics for prostitution

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prostitution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for prostitution



English Language Learners Definition of prostitution

: the work of a prostitute : the act of having sex in exchange for money
: the use of a skill or ability in a way that is not appropriate or respectable


pros·​ti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌpräs-tə-ˈtü-shən, -ˈtyü- How to pronounce prostitution (audio) \

Legal Definition of prostitution

: the act or practice of engaging in sexual activity indiscriminately especially for money also : the crime of engaging in such activity

Comments on prostitution

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