- The definition of a prude is a very proper and modest person.
An example of a prude is a person who wears a lot of clothing in the summer to cover their bodies because they don't want to show their bare skin.
Origin: Fr, back-formation from prudefemme, excellent woman from Old French prud (see proud) plush feme, woman
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Origin: French, short for prude femme, virtuous woman : Old French prude, feminine of prud, virtuous; see proud + French femme, woman (from Latin fēmina; see feminine).Word History: Being called a prude is rarely considered a compliment, but if we dig into the history of the word prude, we find that it has a noble past. The change for the worse took place in French. French prude first had a good sense, “wise woman,” but apparently a woman could be too wise or, in the eyes of some, too observant of decorum and propriety. Thus prude took on the sense in French that was brought into English along with the word, first recorded in 1704. The French word prude was a shortened form of prude femme (earlier in Old French prode femme), a word modeled on earlier preudomme, “a man of experience and integrity.” The second part of this word is, of course, homme, “man.” Old French prod, meaning “wise, prudent,” is from Vulgar Latin prōdis with the same sense. Prōdis in turn comes from Late Latin prōde, “advantageous,” derived from the verb prōdesse, “to be good.” Despite this history filled with usefulness, profit, wisdom, and integrity, prude has become a term of reproach.