noun, plural hetaerae [hi-teer-ee] .
a highly cultured courtesan or concubine, especially in ancient Greece.
any woman who uses her beauty and charm to obtain wealth or social position.
Also, hetaira.

1810–20; < Greek hetaíra (feminine) companion

hetaeric, adjective
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World English Dictionary
hetaera or hetaira (hɪˈtɪərə, hɪˈtaɪrə)
n , pl -taerae, -tairai
(esp in ancient Greece) a female prostitute, esp an educated courtesan
[C19: from Greek hetaira concubine]
hetaira or hetaira (hɪˈtɪərə, hɪˈtaɪrə, -ˈtɪəriː, -ˈtaɪraɪ)
[C19: from Greek hetaira concubine]
he'taeric or hetaira
he'tairic or hetaira

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1820, "mistress," from Mod.L., from Gk. hetaira "female companion," in Athens opposed to "lawful wife," and thus embracing everything from "concubine" to "courtesan;" fem. of hetairos "comrade, companion," from PIE *swet-aro-, suffixed form of base *s(w)e- (see idiom).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


(Female Companion), one of a class of professional independent courtesans of ancient Greece who, besides developing physical beauty, cultivated their minds and talents to a degree far beyond that allowed to the average Attic woman. Usually living fashionably alone, or sometimes two or three together, the hetaerae enjoyed an enviable and respected position of wealth and were protected and taxed by the state. Though they were generally foreigners, slaves, or freedwomen, their freedom was greater than that of the married woman, who was bound to seclusion. That their homes were frequented by married men was not censured by society. They were often hired as entertainers for symposia and family sacrifices. The hetaerae of Corinth and Athens were especially noted for their outstanding physical and cultural accomplishments. Phryne and Lais are historic representatives

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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