The word prostate was first used in the mid-seventeenth century in a manual of human anatomy as prostata (the plural form being prostatae). Through Middle French, this comes from the Latin word prostata and the Ancient Greek prostates, which could mean "protector" but more literally translated to "one who stands before" (apparently in reference to its position at the base of the bladder). The prefix pro- meant "before" here and comes from Proto-Indo-European per, "forward"; meanwhile the root stata is from histanai, meaning"cause to stand" - this is from Proto-Indo-European sta, "stand". Histanai is also the root of words like apostate, system, ecstasy, and Anastasia, and, according to Google NGram Viewer, usage of the word prostate peaked in 2010.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.