Positions, Please

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Getting the right position is not just about making a good career move or finding your spot on the stage. There are several words that refer to the different positions in which you can lie. Some of these are not just about the body, but about the attitude. Here are some examples.

In the 16th century, prone meant bending forward and downward. By the 18th century, it had taken on its modern meaning of lying flat. However, using prone implies that the front of the body is resting on the surface which supports it. In other words, you’re lying on your front.

In contrast, supine implies that you’re lying on your back, a meaning it has had since the 15th century. Supine also means ‘mentally or morally inert’, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology.

Prostrate also means lying down, but it has the additional sense of collapse, defeat and submission. Recumbent means lying down, often in a sleeping position and if you are reclining, though you may be lying down, you may also be leaning backwards, such as when you’re propped up on a couple of pillows.

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