'Prostrate' vs 'Prostate': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on August 11, 2023

‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate’: What’s the difference? Have you ever mispronounced a word you intended to say that resulted in you saying an entirely different, mildly embarrassing word? Getting tripped up by one letter can have some unfortunate consequences at times, and confusing ‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate’ can lead to one of those moments. Let’s help you prevent any awkwardness or confusion. 

In a hurry? Here’s a short preview of what you’ll learn: 

  • ‘Prostrate’ is a word that means lying down in a stretched position. 
  • ‘Prostate’ is a word that refers to a part of the male anatomy. 

What’s the Difference Between ‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate’?

Once you learn a bit more about these two new words, you’ll come to realize the only similarity between them is their spelling — which can be both a good and bad thing. Once you nail down their meanings, you’ll be able to easily tell them apart. 

A big hint that indicates the difference between these words is the parts of speech they belong to. This means they have different functions within a sentence, so once you know how you need the word to work, you can input the correct one. 

  • Prostrate’ is most commonly an adjective, meaning it is a descriptive word that depicts a person or object's position in space.
  •  ‘Prostate’ is a noun, meaning it describes a thing, in this case, a body part. 

You know that when you’re trying to talk about the action or description of lying on the ground you won’t want to use a noun so that you can stay away from ‘Prostate’ in that case. 

Before diving into each word individually, here’s another hint that will help you keep the meaning of the word straight in your head. 

  • The word ‘Prostrate’ has to do with being stretched out, so you can remember that ‘stretched’ and ‘-strate’ both have the “str-” sound in them, while ‘Prostate’ is lacking that second “r”.

Having a basic knowledge of how words differ and compare to each other can be great for kicking off learning new words, but there are other bases to cover. Let’s take a closer look individually at ‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate.’

Definition of ‘Prostrate’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Prostrate’ is an adjective that means: 

  • Lying stretched out on the ground with one’s face downwards
  • Completely overcome or helpless, especially with illness, distress, or exhaustion
    • “His wife was prostrate with shock.”
  • (in botany) growing along the ground

As a verb, the word ‘Prostrate’ can also mean: 

  • Lay oneself flat on the ground, face downward, especially in reverence or submission
    • “She prostrated herself in reverence on the floor of the church.”
  • (of distress, exhaustion, or illness) reduce someone to extreme physical weakness
    • “A migraine so prostrated her that she could scarcely get up the stairs.”

The word ‘Prostrate’ comes from the Latin root ‘prostratus,’ which means “throw down,” as in to throw or lay one’s body down or feel thrown down physically and mentally with exhaustion. You can think of someone throwing their body down onto a bed with exhaustion after a long day of work. 

Synonyms of ‘Prostrate’

  • Flat
  • Horizontal
  • Reclining
  • Procumbent
  • Dejected
  • Depressed
  • Overwhelmed
  • Drained
  • Incapacitated
  • Kneel
  • Surrender
  • Debilitate

Antonyms of ‘Prostrate’

  • Erect
  • Upright
  • Vertical
  • Healthy
  • Strong
  • Cheerful
  • Encouraged
  • Lively
  • Hale
  • Stand 
  • Straighten
  • Activate
  • Mobilize

Phrases with ‘Prostrate’

  • Lie prostrate
  • Be prostrate
  • Prostrate oneself 

Definition of ‘Prostate’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Prostate’ is a noun that means: 

  • A gland surrounding the neck of the bladder in male mammals which releases prostatic fluid

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the medical description of ‘Prostate’ is: 

  • A small, rubbery gland about the size of a ping pong ball, located deep inside the groin that is important for reproduction. 

The term ‘Prostate’ is often used only in a very specific medical or health-related context, which can be helpful in terms of remembering when to use it. Of course, given its very similar spelling to ‘Prostrate, ’ you have to be careful while using it, but knowing the context is helpful. Note that prostate cancer does affect a decent portion of the population, so it is important to keep up with routine medical exams. 

Synonyms of ‘Prostate’

  • Male reproductive gland
  • Endocrine gland
  • Gland

Phrases with ‘Prostate’

  • Prostate exam
  • Prostate cancer
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate treatment

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate’

When one letter makes all the difference, pronunciation and enunciation is key. When you rush through words, people may not hear you correctly and confuse what you’re saying — and with words that are totally different, like ‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate,’ you’re going to want to keep things as clear as possible. So, let’s make sure you’re equipped for any conversation or presentation and look at how to pronounce these two new words properly. 

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Prostrate’ as a guide: 

  • ‘Proh-stray-t’ (where the first syllable sounds like “glow” and the second like “gate”)

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Prostate’ as a guide: 

  • ‘Praw-stay-t’ (where the first syllable sounds like “draw” with a wide ‘o’ sound)

How to Use ‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate’ in a Sentence

One of the best ways to solidify new words while learning them is being able to use and recognize them in real-world scenarios. Particularly with words like ‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate’ appearing in very different settings, knowing what context they typically appear in is key. Additionally, when you’re only hearing a word and aren’t able to read it in front of you, context clues can be the best way to clarify and keep up with a conversation.

Below you’ll find some sample sentences using these new words. Give them a read, then try writing your own examples to practice using these words to really nail them down.

‘Prostrate’ Example Sentences

  • He was floating prostrate in the water, so the others rushed to turn him on his back so he could breathe and wouldn’t drown. 
  • The family was prostrated with shock when they discovered their house had been broken into. 
  • The vines had grown prostrate along the side of the house and were now beginning to wind upwards along the bricks. 
  • He was so prostrated by his 20-hour shift at work that he almost crashed his car on the way home.

‘Prostate’ Example Sentences

  • The prostate gland grows to about the size of a golf ball during adolescent development. 
  • The prostate gland is only found in the male body, so females do not have them, although they do have other similar specialized organs. 
  • While all animals are capable of reproduction, only mammals have prostate glands. 

‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate’ Example Sentences

  • She lay prostrate on the floor of the hospital, desperately thanking the doctors for treating her husband’s prostate cancer. 
  • When getting a prostate exam, patients most commonly lie prostrate on the hospital bed and are put under anesthesia. 

Final Advice on ‘Prostrate’ vs ‘Prostate’

We’ve all had those awkward and embarrassing word mix-ups and mispronunciations that have put us in some less-than-desirable situations. But, when you remember to enunciate words and be purposeful with learning definitions you’ll be less likely to encounter those awkward situations. Thankfully words like ‘Prostrate’ and ‘Prostate’ couldn’t be more different in meaning, so now that you’ve done the work and learned the words individually, you’ll be a pro at distinguishing them.

Want a recap? Here’s a short review of what we covered: 

  • ‘Prostrate’ is an adjective that means to lie flat and face down, as well as to be overcome with exhaustion. 
  • ‘Prostate’ is a noun that refers to a reproductive gland, specifically in the male anatomy. 

Want to master other words that have only a one-letter difference? Check out other confusing word articles to learn how you can avoid getting tripped up by the little things. Remember that enunciation is key, and context clues can be your best friend.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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