New Internationalist

Brothel

March 2004

Brothel is from breothan, an Old English word meaning to go to ruin, or degenerate. A brothel first meant a wretch or scoundrel, and later a prostitute; it acquired its modern meaning because of confusion with the completely separate word bordel (from the Latin bordellum, a small farm or cottage). Prostitute is from the Latin prostituere (to expose publicly, to offer for sale). Courtesan is from the Italian cortigiana (courtier) and was originally a prostitute attached to a court. Pornography is from the Greek pornographos (porne, prostitute and graphein, to write).

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 365 This column was published in the March 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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