prostrate

adjective
pros·trate | \ˈprä-ˌstrāt \

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, 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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In England, youth soccer players of all backgrounds can be found commemorating their goals as Salah does, raising their hands skyward and kneeling prostrate in sujud on the field. Grant Wahl, SI.com, "After Remarkable Rise, Mohamed Salah Shoulders Egypt's World Cup Hopes," 29 May 2018 Ere this dust cleared away, photographers, motion picture men and souvenir hunters had scrambled over the ruins of the prostrate tower like ants teeming about a disturbed hill. sandiegouniontribune.com, "Train tower toppled," 19 Mar. 2018 Lawrence Rines, after a quick manège of low jetés, stepped through his seven prostrate comrades like an NFL running back doing the tire drill. Jeffrey Gantz, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston Ballet opens with high-octane ‘Parts in Suite’," 11 Mar. 2018 But then things got a little crazy: A prostrate woman had caused a small pileup, and Ms. Ma was heading straight for it. Dan Levin, New York Times, "How Immigrants Become Truly Canadian: On the Ski Slopes," 28 Feb. 2018 Scores of fellow believers were prostrate in the middle of the avenue, praying before the start of the city’s Muslim Day parade. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "A Rabbi, an Imam and a Message of Inclusion at a Muslim Parade," 24 Sep. 2017 Some lay prostrate, guiding themselves over foam rollers, while others had their legs wrapped in compression bands or bulky massage boots. Lindsay Crouse, New York Times, "It’s Marathon Season, and Physical Therapists Are Busy," 11 Oct. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Zanka and Schindler prostrated themselves before every shot; Depoitre and Mooy harried for every ball; Jonas Lossl made one of the saves of the season. SI.com, "Huddersfield Town Keep the Magic Alive in a League of Big Spenders and Heavy Hitters," 10 May 2018 This year, a host of American cities vilely prostrated themselves to Amazon in the hopes of winning its promised, new second headquarters. Bruce Sterling, The Atlantic, "Stop Saying 'Smart Cities'," 12 Feb. 2018 The public became accustomed to images of generals and politicians prostrating themselves in front of their constitutional monarch. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "Thailand Prepares for a King’s $90 Million Cremation Ceremony," 25 Oct. 2017 In order to stay in power Lenin had prostrated Russia before Germany with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, by which Russia renounced claims on vast amounts of territory including the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine. Olga Ingurazova, Smithsonian, "What Ever Happened to the Russian Revolution?," 29 Sep. 2017 The Establishment, on the other hand, is terrified of any schism, and willing to prostrate itself in the service of unity. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump, Roy Moore, and the Craven Surrender of the GOP Establishment," 28 Sep. 2017 In the Visa Temple, where devotees leave their shoes, phones, and purses at the door before prostrating to Balaji, the string of attacks seem to strengthen people’s appeals to God. Suman Naishadham, Slate Magazine, "The Visa Temple," 3 Apr. 2017 Perry, having prostrated himself before the Senate, was confirmed in March. Bess Levin, The Hive, "Oops: Rick Perry Tricked Into Discussing Energy Policy with Russian Pranksters," 26 July 2017 Hours earlier at the Vatican, Francis prostrated himself in prayer during a Good Friday service in St. Peter’s Basilica. Frances D'emilio, The Denver Post, "Pope speaks of humanity’s “shame” in Good Friday procession," 14 Apr. 2017

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.

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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

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Phrases Related to prostrate

prostrate oneself

Statistics for prostrate

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Time Traveler for prostrate

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

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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 \

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 \

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

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Comments on prostrate

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