AskDefine | Define prostration

Dictionary Definition



1 a condition marked by dizziness and nausea and weakness caused by depletion of body fluids and electrolytes [syn: heat exhaustion, heat prostration]
2 abject submission; the emotional equivalent of prostrating your body
3 the act of assuming a prostrate position

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The act or condition of prostrating (lying flat) oneself, as a sign of humility.
  2. A part of the ordination of Catholic and Orthodox priests.
    The ordination ceremony includes a variety of rituals, rich in meaning and history, e.g., the prostration, laying on of hands, anointing of hands, giving of the chalice and paten, and sign of peace. — Diocese of Rochester, NY
  3. Being laid face down (prone).
  4. The condition of being prostrated, as from heat.

Usage notes

Outside of ordination, prostration as a sign of humility has never been part of the Western tradition, but was present in the Middle-Eastern and Asian traditions.

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

For the medical condition of heat prostration, see hyperthermia.
Prostration is the placement of the body in a reverentially or submissively prone position. By analogy, the term is sometimes used to describe physical exhaustion or illness which results in physical collapse, or metaphorically, for military defeat.
Prostration as part of religious and spiritual practices:
  • In the Bahá'í Faith, a single prostration is to be performed in the place of each unsaid obligatory prayer and say "Glorified be God, the Lord of Might and Majesty, of Grace and Bounty". However, if unable to do so, saying "Glorified be God" is sufficient. (Source: The Kitab-i-Agdas, The Most Holy Book, by Baha'u'llah, #14)
  • In Buddhism, prostrations are used to show reverence to the Triple Gem.
  • In Christianity, in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, prostrations are used during the imposition of Holy Orders. Some Eastern Orthodox practitioners also use "low bows" (zemnoy poklon) during worship services. In the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, prostrations ("profound bows") can be used in place of genuflections for those who are unable to genuflect.
  • In Hinduism, eight-limbed (ashtanga pranama) and five-limbed (panchanga pranama) prostrations are included in the religious ritual of puja.
  • In Islam, prostrations (sujud) are used to praise and glorify Allah and are included in ones daily prayers. In addition, the thirty-second chapter (sura) of the Qur'an is called As-Sajda ("The Prostration").
  • In Judaism, the Talmudic texts as well as writings of Gaonim and Rishonim indicate that prostration was common among many Jewish communities until some point during the Middle Ages. Members of the Karaite denomination practice full prostrations during prayers. Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews prostrate during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as did Yemenite Jews during the Tachanun part of regular daily Jewish prayer until somewhat recently. Ethiopian Jews traditionally prostrated during a holiday specific to their community known as Sigd. Sigd comes from a root word meaning prostration in Amharic, Aramaic, and Arabic. There is a movement among Talmide haRambam to revive prostration as a regular part of daily Jewish worship.
  • In modern yoga practice, "sun salutations" (Sūrya namaskāra) are a regular part of practitioners' routines.
Prostration in other contexts:
prostration in Danish: Prostration
prostration in French: Prostration
prostration in Swedish: Prostration

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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