AskDefine | Define prostrate

Dictionary Definition

prostrate adj
1 stretched out and lying at full length along the ground; "found himself lying flat on the floor" [syn: flat]
2 lying face downward [syn: prone]


1 get into a prostrate position, as in submission [syn: bow down]
2 render helpless or defenseless; "They prostrated the enemy"
3 throw down flat, as on the ground; "She prostrated herself with frustration"

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK) /ˈpɹɒstɹeɪt/, /"prQstreIt/
  • (US) /ˈpɹɑːstɹeɪt/, /"prA:steIt/


  1. Lying flat, facedown.
    The prisoners were prostrate on the ground.


lying flat, facedown
  • Norwegian: prostrert


  1. To lay flat or facedown, prone; flatten (often reflexive).
    1945 ''Finally almost the whole world was combined against the evil-doers, who are now prostrate before us. — Winston Churchill, VE Day speech from House of Commons, May 8, 1945
  2. To be emotionally devastated.
    I told him you was prostrate with grief. — Mammy to Scarlett, Gone With the Wind.
  3. To become physically incapacitated from environmental exposure or debilitating disease.
    He was prostrate from the extreme heat.

Usage notes

Prostrate and prostate are often confused, in spelling if not in meaning.


to lay flat or facedown, prone
  • Norwegian: prostrere
to be emotionally devastated
to become physically incapacitated

Related terms



  1. Form of Second-person plural present tense, prostrare
  2. Form of Second-person plural imperative, prostrare#Italian|prostrare

Extensive Definition

For the medical condition of heat prostration, see hyperthermia.
Prostration is the placement of the body in a reverentially or submissively prone position. By analogy, the term is sometimes used to describe physical exhaustion or illness which results in physical collapse, or metaphorically, for military defeat.
Prostration as part of religious and spiritual practices:
  • In the Bahá'í Faith, a single prostration is to be performed in the place of each unsaid obligatory prayer and say "Glorified be God, the Lord of Might and Majesty, of Grace and Bounty". However, if unable to do so, saying "Glorified be God" is sufficient. (Source: The Kitab-i-Agdas, The Most Holy Book, by Baha'u'llah, #14)
  • In Buddhism, prostrations are used to show reverence to the Triple Gem.
  • In Christianity, in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, prostrations are used during the imposition of Holy Orders. Some Eastern Orthodox practitioners also use "low bows" (zemnoy poklon) during worship services. In the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, prostrations ("profound bows") can be used in place of genuflections for those who are unable to genuflect.
  • In Hinduism, eight-limbed (ashtanga pranama) and five-limbed (panchanga pranama) prostrations are included in the religious ritual of puja.
  • In Islam, prostrations (sujud) are used to praise and glorify Allah and are included in ones daily prayers. In addition, the thirty-second chapter (sura) of the Qur'an is called As-Sajda ("The Prostration").
  • In Judaism, the Talmudic texts as well as writings of Gaonim and Rishonim indicate that prostration was common among many Jewish communities until some point during the Middle Ages. Members of the Karaite denomination practice full prostrations during prayers. Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews prostrate during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as did Yemenite Jews during the Tachanun part of regular daily Jewish prayer until somewhat recently. Ethiopian Jews traditionally prostrated during a holiday specific to their community known as Sigd. Sigd comes from a root word meaning prostration in Amharic, Aramaic, and Arabic. There is a movement among Talmide haRambam to revive prostration as a regular part of daily Jewish worship.
  • In modern yoga practice, "sun salutations" (Sūrya namaskāra) are a regular part of practitioners' routines.
Prostration in other contexts:
prostrate in Danish: Prostration
prostrate in French: Prostration
prostrate in Swedish: Prostration

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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