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.

The word prostrate traces back to the Latin word prostratus, meaning “thrown down.” If you are prostrate, you feel thrown down and laid flat. It can describe lying on the ground in a helpless position, or it can be used to describe someone who has been overcome or made unable to function, such as someone who is prostrated by grief or illness.

Definitions of prostrate
  1. adjective
    stretched out and lying at full length along the ground
    synonyms: flat
    not upright in position or posture
  2. adjective
    lying face downward
    synonyms: prone
    not upright in position or posture
  3. verb
    get into a prostrate position, as in submission
    synonyms: bow down
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    type of:
    lie, lie down
    assume a reclining position
  4. verb
    throw down flat, as on the ground
    “She prostrated herself with frustration”
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    type of:
    propel through the air
  5. verb
    render helpless or defenseless
    “They prostrated the enemy”
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    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
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