Courtesan

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Dr. Goodword
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Courtesan

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Feb 28, 2024 6:06 pm

• courtesan •


Pronunciation: kor-tê-zên • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A mistress supported by a member of the nobility. 2. A sophisticated prostitute with an elite, if not courtly clientele.

Notes: Today's word refers to a highly successful entrepreneuse in the world's oldest profession. (I just borrowed entrepreneuse momentarily from French.) The occupation of a courtesan is called courtesanship or courtesanism. The word is rarely used as a verb meaning "to convert to courtesanship."

In Play: The prostitute should be sophisticated to deserve this appellation: "Ali Katz is a courtesan of fairly good taste plying her trade in an exclusive bordello in New Monia." They should also be expensive: "Wylie Kur is a multimillionaire who keeps courtesans in several apartments around Chicago."

Word History: If you spotted the court in this word, you are on the right track. Today's Good Word originally meant "a lady of the regal court". English borrowed the word from French courtisane, the French version of Italian cortigiana "lady of the court; prostitute", a word based on Latin cors, cortis "courtyard, enclosure", a reduction of cohors, cohortis. This word is a combination and reduction of com- "(together) with" + hort(us) "garden, plot". Latin inherited hortus from PIE gherdh-/ghordh- "to encircle, enclose", source also of Sanskrit grdha- "house, dwelling", Greek khortos "pasture", Albanian gardh "fence", Irish gort "field", Breton garzh "hedge", Icelandic garður "garden", Swedish gård "(court)yard, homestead", German Garten "garden", English garden and yard, Polish gród "castle", Russian gorod "city", and Serbian grad "city". (Now a gracious nod to grandmaster of GW suggestions, Lew Jury, for today's richly historical Good if naughty Word.)
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Debbymoge
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Re: Courtesan

Postby Debbymoge » Wed Feb 28, 2024 7:42 pm

Long after I was out of the local school system, my first grade teacher told me she remembered me for a conversation she and I had after class one day.

She had asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I answered.
She waited till the end of the school day to ask me about it.

My answer had been "a high priced courtesan".She wanted to know what I meant and why. I explained that I was interested in politics and how things got done, but that women were not allowed to reach the top positions in that world, so the best I could do would be to influence a man who could run things.

I don't know how I knew the word, but evidently I did. I could read by then, and spent a lot of time with the big dictionary in the living room, but can't imagine that I had read it in a book. More than likely, I was in the neighborhood looking at something else. I browsed a lot.

She said she still chuckled thinking about it.
I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
Shakespear

George Kovac
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Re: Courtesan

Postby George Kovac » Wed Feb 28, 2024 10:42 pm

Hmm…. So how did we get to the verb “to court,” a thoroughly respectable verb, whether it is “to court favor with …” or to engage in the respectable ritual of slowly and publicly trying to persuade a nice woman that you would be a suitable husband?
"Language is rooted in context, which is another way of saying language is driven by memory." Natalia Sylvester, New York Times 4/13/2024

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Re: Courtesan

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Feb 28, 2024 11:27 pm

My answer had been "a high priced courtesan".
Brilliant reply and reasoning.
So how did we get to the verb “to court,”
Again, the legitimate behavior in regal courts.

The legal court got its name from the time when royal justice was measured out in regal courts. When the word of a king was law.
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Debbymoge
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Re: Courtesan

Postby Debbymoge » Thu Feb 29, 2024 12:10 pm

"The legal court got its name from the time when royal justice was measured out in regal courts. When the word of a king was law."

Does that mean the King could/would/should decide who might wed, or woo, whom?
I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
Shakespear

David Myer
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Re: Courtesan

Postby David Myer » Thu Feb 29, 2024 8:32 pm

Enjoyed your primary school story, Debby. Very impressive. I was moved to google 'high-priced courtesan' and discovered this extraordinary story from the Reno Gazette Journal.
https://www.rgj.com/story/news/local/le ... 426565002/

Companion of the Year, no less.

Debbymoge
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Re: Courtesan

Postby Debbymoge » Fri Mar 01, 2024 12:15 pm

Interesting article, David.
Just one look at the picture at the start of it showed her to be far and away more qualified for the job than I ever was.
However, I never applied for the position.
I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
Shakespear

David Myer
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Re: Courtesan

Postby David Myer » Mon Mar 04, 2024 12:50 am

Pleased to hear that you were not an applicant, Debby. Although I am sure if you turned your mind to it, you would have found yourself well-qualified. Certainly an interesting role, especially around the court or political higher echelons.


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