also courtezan, "a prostitute," 1540s, from French courtisane, from Italian cortigiana "prostitute," literally "woman of the court" (a mock-use or euphemism), fem. of cortigiano "one attached to a court," from corte "court," from Latin cortem (see court (n.)).
An earlier identical word in English meant "a courtier, a member of the papal curia" (early 15c.), from Old French courtisan, the masc. form, from Italian cortigiano.
updated on October 13, 2021