prostrate

adjective
pros·​trate | \ ˈprä-ˌstrāt How to pronounce prostrate (audio) \

Definition of prostrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission also : lying flat
2 : completely overcome and lacking vitality, will, or power to rise was prostrate from the heat
3 : trailing on the ground : procumbent prostrate shrubs

prostrate

verb
pros·​trate | \ ˈprä-ˌstrāt How to pronounce prostrate (audio) , especially British prä-ˈstrāt \
prostrated; prostrating

Definition of prostrate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to throw or put into a prostrate position
2 : to put (oneself) in a humble and submissive posture or state the whole town had to prostrate itself in official apology— Claudia Cassidy
3 : to reduce to submission, helplessness, or exhaustion was prostrated with grief

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for prostrate

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for prostrate

Adjective

prone, supine, prostrate, recumbent mean lying down. prone implies a position with the front of the body turned toward the supporting surface. push-ups require a prone position supine implies lying on one's back and suggests inertness or abjectness. lying supine on the couch prostrate implies lying full-length as in submission, defeat, or physical collapse. a runner fell prostrate at the finish line recumbent implies the posture of one sleeping or resting. a patient comfortably recumbent in a hospital bed

The Difference Between Prone, Supine, and Prostrate

Adjective

In literal use, prone and supine indicate contrasting positions of the body: a person lying prone is facing downward while a person lying supine is face up.

Both prone and supine also have meanings that have nothing to do with physical position. Supine, in keeping with the image of one lying comfortably idle, can be applied to those who are willing to be controlled by others, or who show mental or moral slackness, as in "supine obedience" or "supine inaction."

Prone is used in the sense of "having a tendency or inclination," as in "prone to worry" or "accident-prone." This usage is similar to such words as apt, liable, or likely (as in "apt to be late"), but in many instances prone implies a vulnerability to attack or damaging influence, in keeping with the image of one lying face down and unable to see what is approaching.

The word prostrate too has meanings to do with body position. It is used with the very specific meaning of "stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission," but is also used simply to mean "lying flat." In figurative use, prostrate means "completely overcome and lacking vitality, will, or power to rise," as in "prostrate in fear."

So while prone, supine, and prostrate have specific meanings with regard to body position, they also come with situational connotations in many cases: prone suggests exposure or vulnerability; supine connotes a position of weakness or passivity; and prostrate implies submission in the face of being overcome.

Examples of prostrate in a Sentence

Adjective The police found the body in a prostrate position. She was lying prostrate on the bed. They were prostrate from the heat. Verb an athlete prostrated for weeks by a bout of pneumonia the huge increase in gas prices really prostrated the nation's economic engine
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Thomas Hayer, a twenty-two-year-old member of the Newark Mosque, fired insurance rounds at the prostrate Malcolm, hitting him in his left ankle. Les Payne, The New Yorker, 27 Aug. 2020 The question is never just a question; the subject is helpless to her storytelling, a rigorous empathy that was like refuge to the Duke and Duchess, who have long been prostrate to the narratives of the tabloids. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, 8 Mar. 2021 The doctor leaves his dead son and prostrate wife to go with the excited young man. Kurt Vonnegut, The New Yorker, 23 Nov. 2020 The technique is deft and the maneuver swift as the instructor first levers his pupil onto one side, then pivots to leave him prostrate and immobilized on the dark blue mat. Stephen Castle, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2020 The governor-general is Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, whose badge depicts a white-skinned angel stomping on a prostrate black-skinned Satan. The Economist, 16 Sep. 2020 Terrence sat down on the pavement where someone had painted the white silhouette of a prostrate body, its hands manacled behind its back and angelic wings spreading from its shoulders. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, 15 June 2020 Since the election will be, more than anything else, a referendum on Trump, Biden may not need much more than a pulse to win this year, especially given the prostrate economy and Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic. Bruce Bartlett, The New Republic, 1 June 2020 People often confuse clover with another three-leafed, prostrate plant called wood sorrel. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 15 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Local officials across hard-knock America prostrate themselves for a chance to host it. Vauhini Vara, The Atlantic, 12 Feb. 2021 Such actions are unprecedented in Thailand, where those waiting for a royal motorcade regularly sit on the ground or prostrate themselves. Grant Peck And Chris Blake, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Oct. 2020 Naird’s situation is of a man with ramrod-straight posture prostrated and disarrayed at many odd angles. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, 28 May 2020 That same confidence is also what led Minlend to prostrate on the court, dejected, after USF’s season came to a close with a narrow loss to juggernaut Gonzaga on March 9. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, 15 Apr. 2020 During that service, in a sign of humble obedience, Francis prostrated himself for a few minutes on the basilica floor. NBC News, 11 Apr. 2020 But my resolution wasn’t a self-righteous, self-prostrating chore. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, 27 Dec. 2019 One protester crawled part of the route prostrated on her hands and knees, dragging bricks and empty soda cans behind her. NBC News, 8 Dec. 2019 Not even South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham may dream to prostrate himself so completely. Kyle Whitmire, al, 15 Nov. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of prostrate

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prostrate

Adjective

Middle English prostrat, from Anglo-French, from Latin prostratus, past participle of prosternere, from pro- before + sternere to spread out, throw down — more at strew

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About prostrate

Time Traveler for prostrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of prostrate was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near prostrate

prostomium

prostrate

prostrate juniper

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for prostrate

Cite this Entry

“Prostrate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prostrate. Accessed 28 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prostrate

prostrate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of prostrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: lying with the front of your body turned toward the ground
: so tired, upset, etc., that you are unable to do anything

prostrate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of prostrate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (someone) weak or powerless

prostrate

adjective
pros·​trate | \ ˈprä-ˌstrāt How to pronounce prostrate (audio) \

Kids Definition of prostrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : lying with the face turned toward the ground
2 : lacking strength or energy I'm prostrate with a cold.

prostrate

verb
prostrated; prostrating

Kids Definition of prostrate (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : lie on the ground with the face down Worshippers prostrated themselves on the ground.
2 : to bring to a weak and powerless condition The widow was prostrated with grief.

prostrate

adjective
pros·​trate | \ ˈpräs-ˌtrāt How to pronounce prostrate (audio) \

Medical Definition of prostrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: completely overcome was prostrate from the heat

prostrate

transitive verb
prostrated; prostrating

Medical Definition of prostrate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put into a state of extreme bodily exhaustion prostrated by fever

More from Merriam-Webster on prostrate

Nglish: Translation of prostrate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prostrate for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!