brothel

[14] Originally, brothel was a general term of abuse for any worthless or despised person (John Gower, in his Confessio Amantis 1393, writes: ‘Quoth Achab then, there is one, a brothel, which Micheas hight [who is called Micheas]’); it was a derivative of the Old English adjective brothen ‘ruined, degenerate’, which was originally the past participle of the verb brēothan ‘deteriorate’ (possibly a relative of brēotan ‘break’, which may be connected with brittle). In the late 15th century we have the first evidence of its being applied specifically to a ‘prostitute’. Thence came the compound brothel-house, and by the late 16th century this had been abbreviated to brothel in its current sense.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brothel — Broth el, n. [OE. brothel, brodel, brethel, a prostitute, a worthless fellow, fr. AS. ber[ o][eth]an to ruin, destroy; cf. AS. bre[ o]tan to break, and E. brittle. The term brothel house was confused with bordel brothel. CF. {Bordel}.] A house of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • brothel — bawdy house, 1590s, shortened from brothel house, from brothel prostitute (late 15c.), earlier vile, worthless person of either sex (14c.), from O.E. broðen pp. of breoðan deteriorate, go to ruin, from P.Gmc. *breuthanan, var. of *breutanan to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • brothel — [n] house of prostitution bagnio, bawdy house*, bordello, call house*, cathouse*, den of iniquity*, house of assignation, house of ill repute, house with red doors*, massage parlor, red light district, whorehouse; concept 449 …   New thesaurus

  • brothel — ► NOUN ▪ a house where men visit prostitutes. ORIGIN originally in the sense «worthless man, prostitute»: related to an Old English word meaning «degenerate, deteriorate» …   English terms dictionary

  • brothel — [bräth′əl, brôth′əl] n. [ME, wretched person < OE brothen, pp. of broethan, to waste away, go to ruin; confused with BORDEL] a place where prostitutes may be engaged for hire …   English World dictionary

  • Brothel — Lupanar redirects here. For the Pompeii brothel, see Lupanar (Pompeii). Cathouse redirects here. For other uses, see Cathouse (disambiguation). For the 2008 film The Brothel , see Brothel (film). Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Salon at the Rue des… …   Wikipedia

  • brothel — noun VERB + BROTHEL ▪ go to, visit ▪ He used to visit a brothel on the outskirts of town. ▪ run ▪ His aunt ran a brothel. ▪ She ran a bro …   Collocations dictionary

  • brothel — [14] Originally, brothel was a general term of abuse for any worthless or despised person (John Gower, in his Confessio Amantis 1393, writes: ‘Quoth Achab then, there is one, a brothel, which Micheas hight [who is called Micheas]’); it was a… …   Word origins

  • brothel — brothellike, adj. /broth euhl, brodh , braw theuhl, dheuhl/, n. a house of prostitution. [1350 1400 for earlier sense; short for brothel house whore house; ME brothel harlot, orig. worthless person, equiv. to broth (ptp. s. of brethen, OE… …   Universalium

  • brothel — UK [ˈbrɒθ(ə)l] / US [ˈbrɑθ(ə)l] noun [countable] Word forms brothel : singular brothel plural brothels a place where men pay to have sex with prostitutes …   English dictionary

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