Commonly Confused Words
Oh, for the want of a letter! Prostate is a gland found in male mammals, but prostrate, with an r, means to lie face down. Get them mixed up and you'll thoroughly confuse your doctor.
A prostate (no r)is a gland in front of the bladder of male mammals. You often hear about men having enlarged prostates or prostate cancer:
A longer index finger gives men a lower risk of prostate cancer. (Reuters)
Prostatecancer begins in the walnut-sized prostate gland, an integral part of the male reproductive system. (Science Magazine)
Until very recently, the American Cancer Society also urged men to get tested in order to avoid being killed by prostate cancer. (Time)
Add that second "r" in there, and prostrate means to lie or bow down. You might prostrate yourself before royalty, or lie prostrate on the floor if you have the flu or if your best friend just died. Prostrate is to be flattened:
I found myself prostrate, then crawling until my glasses broke. (New York Times)
When Lord Macartney came to China he refused to prostrate himself before the Emperor in the ritual kowtow out of respect to his own monarch. (The Telegraph)
See the poor wretch, prostrate at the royal feet, imploring a little indulgence, and promising what is utterly beyond his power. (Joseph Cross)
Men might have prostate cancer, which has nothing to do with what they ate, but remember the r in prostrate stands for relax or lie down.
The prostate gland is part of a man's reproductive system; it's located near his bladder and is about the size of a kiwi fruit. Prostate cancer, which is fairly common in men, is usually treatable if it is detected early. Continue reading...
The verb prostrate means to lie face-downward in submission or despair. More generally, it means to make helpless or defenseless. Illness, injury, grief, despair — any of these things can prostrate someone. Continue reading...