1

prostrate

adjective pros·trate \ ˈprä-ˌstrāt \
|Updated on: 3 Jun 2018

Definition of prostrate

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

Examples of prostrate in a Sentence

  1. The police found the body in a prostrate position.

  2. She was lying prostrate on the bed.

  3. They were prostrate from the heat.

Recent Examples of prostrate from the Web

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.

The Difference Between prone, supine, and prostrate

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.

Origin and Etymology of prostrate

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

Synonym Discussion of prostrate

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

2

prostrate

verb pros·trate \ ˈprä-ˌstrāt , especially British prä-ˈstrāt \

Definition of prostrate

prostrated; prostrating
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

Examples of prostrate in a Sentence

  1. an athlete prostrated for weeks by a bout of pneumonia

  2. the huge increase in gas prices really prostrated the nation's economic engine

Recent Examples of prostrate from the Web

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.

First Known Use of prostrate

15th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1

See Words from the same year
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PROSTRATE Defined for English Language Learners

prostrate

Definition of prostrate for English Language Learners

  • : lying with the front of your body turned toward the ground

  • : so tired, upset, etc., that you are unable to do anything


prostrate

Definition of prostrate for English Language Learners

  • : to make (someone) weak or powerless


PROSTRATE Defined for Kids

1

prostrate

adjective pros·trate \ ˈprä-ˌstrāt \

Definition of prostrate for Students

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

2

prostrate

verb

Definition of prostrate for Students

prostrated; prostrating
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.

Medical Dictionary

1

prostrate

adjective pros·trate \ ˈpräs-ˌtrāt \

medical Definition of prostrate

: completely overcome
  • was prostrate from the heat

2

prostrate

transitive verb

medical Definition of prostrate

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


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