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or courtezan

[kawr-tuh-zuh n, kohr-, kur-] /ˈkɔr tə zən, ˈkoʊr-, ˈkɜr-/
a prostitute or paramour, especially one associating with noblemen or men of wealth.
Origin of courtesan
1540-50; < Middle French courtisane < Italian cortigiana, literally, woman of the court, derivative of corte court Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for courtesan
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • One thinks the brushes that painted this fair dove could never paint a courtesan.

    From the Oak to the Olive Julia Ward Howe
  • From the first to the last moment of her reign, she combined the courtesan with the assassin.

    Ridgeway Scian Dubh
  • Then Demetrios thought that perhaps he had made a mistake in taking her for a courtesan.

    Ancient Manners Pierre Louys
  • For Dawson was at this time the Mecca of the gambler and the courtesan.

    The Trail of '98 Robert W. Service
  • Theodora, the courtesan queen of Rome, trying to obtain salvation by taking from her her lover?

    Under the Witches' Moon Nathan Gallizier
British Dictionary definitions for courtesan


(esp formerly) a prostitute, or the mistress of a man of rank
Word Origin
C16: from Old French courtisane, from Italian cortigiana female courtier, from cortigiano courtier, from cortecourt
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for courtesan

early 15c., from Middle French courtisane, from Italian cortigiana "prostitute," literally "woman of the court," fem. of cortigiano "one attached to a court," from corte "court," from Latin cortem (see court (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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