Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A woman prostitute, especially one whose clients are members of a royal court or men of high social standing.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun See courtezan, courtezanship.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A woman who prostitutes herself for hire; a prostitute; a harlot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun archaic A woman of a royal or noble court.
  • noun dated The mistress of a royal or noble.
  • noun A prostitute, especially one with high-status or wealthy clients

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a woman who cohabits with an important man

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French courtisane, from Old French, from Old Italian cortigiana, feminine of cortigiano, courtier, from corte, court, from Latin cohors, cohort-; see gher- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French courtisane, from Italian cortigiana, feminine of cortigiano ‘courtier’, from corte ‘court’.

Examples

  • The term courtesan has the added advantage of being politely derogatory enough to make it into mainstream parlance.

    Firedoglake » A Question That Needs Answers…

  • The high point for Defoe's high-class courtesan is her "little ball" in her swanky London apartments.

    Ten of the best balls in literature

  • It occurred to me recently that the word courtesan would a better term to describe the fawning sycophants who make up the washington establishment these days, media shills, congress, and Demo collaborators.

    Firedoglake » A Question That Needs Answers…

  • It occurred to me recently that the word courtesan would a better term to describe the fawning sycophants who make up the washington establishment these days, media shills, congress, and Demo collaborators.

    Firedoglake » A Question That Needs Answers…

  • I think when you say the word courtesan, or prostitute, you don't think of things like integrity, and somebody who's highly moral, and all of those things.

    Cinema Blend Feeds

  • And therefore knowledge that tendeth but to satisfaction is but as a courtesan, which is for pleasure and not for fruit or generation.

    Valerius Terminus: of the interpretation of Nature

  • A courtesan is a mistress of a man of wealth or nobility.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • A courtesan is a mistress of a man of wealth or nobility.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • The greatest danger in becoming a courtesan was the risk that her choice might damage Geoffrey, since to leave him behind was entirely out of the question.

    Dearly Beloved

  • And she is all the more real because it is France, impure, the country of light loves and immodest passions, where all that is sensual comes to the surface, and the courtesan is the queen of ignoble fancy, that has brought forth this most perfect embodiment of purity among the nations.

    Jeanne d'Arc

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Cortigiano (man): a courtier

    Cortigiana (woman): a trollop.

    June 13, 2008

  • Rodrigio's wife was this.

    June 19, 2012