If you throw yourself at your mom's feet and beg forgiveness for breaking curfew, that's prostration. Many religious rituals include various forms of prostration, or lying face-downward in a submissive way.

When a Catholic kneels to pray in church, or a Muslim bows his head to touch the ground during prayers, it's an act of prostration, or making yourself humble before a god or religious figure. In Hinduism, touching the feet of a guru (or teacher) is a sign of respect, and also a form of prostration. The source of this noun is the adjective prostrate, literally "lying face-down," from the Latin prosternere, "throw down."

Definitions of prostration

n the act of assuming a prostrate position

Type of:
motility, motion, move, movement
a change of position that does not entail a change of location

n abject submission; the emotional equivalent of prostrating your body

Type of:
compliance, submission
the act of submitting; usually surrendering power to another

n an abrupt failure of function or complete physical exhaustion

“the commander's prostration demoralized his men”
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breakdown, crack-up
a mental or physical breakdown
(pathology) bodily collapse or near collapse caused by inadequate oxygen delivery to the cells; characterized by reduced cardiac output and rapid heartbeat and circulatory insufficiency and pallor
heat hyperpyrexia, heatstroke
collapse caused by exposure to excessive heat
prostration characterized by cold and clammy skin and low blood pressure
nervous breakdown
a severe or incapacitating emotional disorder
cardiogenic shock
shock caused by cardiac arrest
hypovolemic shock
shock caused by severe blood or fluid loss
obstructive shock
shock caused by obstruction of blood flow
distributive shock
shock caused by poor distribution of the blood flow
insulin reaction, insulin shock
hypoglycemia produced by excessive insulin in the system causing coma
heat exhaustion, heat prostration
a condition marked by dizziness and nausea and weakness caused by depletion of body fluids and electrolytes
insolation, siriasis, sunstroke, thermic fever
sudden prostration due to exposure to the sun or excessive heat
Type of:
illness, malady, sickness, unwellness
impairment of normal physiological function affecting part or all of an organism

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