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Sentence:

The story ended with Mary crying next to a bandaged Tom [...] on a hospital bed.

I thought the word was prostrated, but the Google definition doesn't quite fit:

prostrate throw oneself flat on the ground so as to be lying face downwards, especially in reverence or submission.

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  • I do not understand your question. You quote a perfectly fine sentence and then say you thought the word was prostrate. Does it say: prostate on a hospital bed??
    – Lambie
    Apr 12, 2017 at 13:31
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    Wait. Who is lying on a hospital bed in this narrative? Was Mary so grief-stricken that she lay next to Tom in the bed while she cried? Awkward but presumably correct would be, "The story ended with Mary crying next to a bandaged Tom, who lay supine on a hospital bed." This is awkward because how Tom is lying in the bed is irrelevant, and nobody would use either "prostrate" or "supine" in such a simple sentence. Apr 12, 2017 at 14:10
  • Lambie's typo is an amusing reminder that we should be careful to distinguish between "prostrate" and "prostate." :-) Apr 12, 2017 at 14:26
  • @MarkHubbard It wasn't Lambie's mistake. Alex originally wrote prostate everywhere before VickyAce corrected it.
    – lly
    Apr 12, 2017 at 14:59

3 Answers 3

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Google didn't say that. It said prostrate meant that. Now, the original English sense of 'prostrate' is 'face-down on the ground' but it calls back to Latin prostratus which is actually laid forth or out in the manner of a slain enemy or KOed boxer. Similarly, the other senses of 'prostrate' mean 'leveled', 'defeated', 'powerless'.

No one is going to bat an eye if you use prostrate in your sentence but if you want to avoid some potential ambiguity you just need to say lying prostrate: lying in a prostrate fashion, which calls out the helpless, immobile, powerless senses of the word.

The word that will actually make people think he's facing the wrong way in his bed would be prone. As @MarkHubbard pointed out above, its opposite is supine although that's relatively less well known.

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  • It is a comment,not an answer.
    – vickyace
    Apr 12, 2017 at 12:23
  • @vickyace Fix't.
    – lly
    Apr 12, 2017 at 12:27
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A word specifically meaning incapable of moving would be inert.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inert

lacking the power to move

Although the definition doesn't always necessarily imply "lying down," your example sentence implies that already, so this word could work in your situation.

As an aside, useful words referring to how one is lying in the bed are "prone" (face down) or "supine" (face up).

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    Or the word immobile
    – Xanne
    Apr 12, 2017 at 18:30
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Immobilized (MWD)

to reduce or eliminate motion of (the body or a part) by mechanical means or by strict bed rest

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