prostitute - euphemism

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by tFighterPilot, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    In the Israeli media, when there's an article involving a prostitute, she's usually called נערת ליווי na'arát livúy (escort girl) instead of the proper name זונה zoná.

    Is there a similar thing in your country\language?
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2012
  2. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In the Greek Media, the euphemism of a prostitute is «ιερόδουλη» /ie'roðuli/ (fem. nom. sing.) and «ιερόδουλες» /ie'roðules/ in plural.
    The noun is an ancient one, «ἱερόδουλη» hĭĕ'rŏdoulē (fem.) and described a temple female slave in the service of a specific deity, often with the connotation of religious sexual rites (e.g the female templecourtesans at Corinth). Compound, adj. «ἱερός, -ὰ, -όν» hĭĕ'rŏs, hĭĕ'ră, hĭĕ'rŏn (masc. fem. neut.) --> sacred (with obscure etymology) + noun «δοῦλος, -λη, -ον» 'doulŏs, 'doulē, 'doulŏn (masc. fem. neut.) --> slave (of unknown etymology)
  3. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    “Prostitute” is actually a euphemism itself. The genuine English word is “harlot” or “whore”.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2012
  4. ancalimon Senior Member


    orospu : whore

    sanitized version is hayat kadını: (life woman).. I guess we call them this because maybe we think that they do this because life wasn't kind to them.
  5. Maroseika Moderator

    путана (putana)
    гетера (hetaera)
    ночная бабочка (night butterfly)
    публичная женщина (lit. public woman)
    женщина легкого поведения (woman of easy virtue)
  6. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    In AE I hear "street walker", "escort girl"; the "official" term is "sex worker".
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2012
  7. Hamlet2508 Senior Member

    What about slut ?
  8. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    It's amazing that you use the name hetaera for the prostitute, we don't, it's an archaism for us.
    The use of «πουτάνα»:warn: /pu'tana/ (fem.) is considered a profanity.
    The genuine Greek word for the prostitute is «πόρνη» /'porni/ (fem.) which is an ancient word, «πόρνη» 'pŏrnē (fem.), from the verb «πέρνημι» 'pĕ'rnēmĭ --> to sell (PIE root *per-, to traffic in, to sell).
    Another (rarely used) euphemism is «παλ(λ)ακίδα» /pala'ciða/ (fem.), a Classical feminine noun «παλλακίς» păllā'kīs --> concubine, a woman who offers herself in ritual prostitution (with obscure etymology, cognate with the Latin pælex --> mistress)
  9. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    Maroseika may disagree with me, but I have absolutely no association between a random contamporary prostitute (and much less a PC term for a prostitute) and hetaera (or the Russian term for it). To me heatera is very specific to high society in ancient Greece.
  10. rayloom Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    Two euphemisms are used Arabic:
    فتيات الليل fatayaat al-layl "girls of the night"
    بائعات الهوى baa'i3aat al-hawaa "Sellers (f) of desire" (or something of the sort)
  11. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch: "meisjes van plezier", girls of pleasure, might be one...
  12. Hamlet2508 Senior Member

    German (slightly derogatory) "Damen vom Gewerbe"
  13. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    This is a rather stiff expression used by people who are afraid of saying "Prostituierte" which is the common word in the media.

    My favourite is "Bordsteinschwalbe" (kerb swallow) though.

    Now I know where "porn" comes from. :D
  14. shawnee

    shawnee Senior Member

    English - Australian
    Thanks for that apmoy, Owing to thefact that in my laziness I keep up with Greek media in the Enlish version, I'd not come across this before. I can't however, imagine using it without a touch of irony; I mean holy- worker/slave? Is there not some tongue-in-cheek in the media use of this term?
  15. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Hi shawnee,

    Actually that's the accepted euphemism for the prostitute.
    In fact the girls name themselves «ιερόδουλη/ιερόδουλες» (Prostitution here is legal and regulated. The girls of the said profession, are monitored regularly by health inspectors for STDs and keep a health personal record where they are officially called "holy slaves").
    You could use «εκδιδόμενη γυναίκα/εκδιδόμενες γυναίκες» /ekði'ðomeni ʝi'neka/ (fem. nom. sing.) /ekði'ðomenes ʝi'neces/ (fem. nom. pl.) instead, lit. disseminated woman.
    But it's considered bookish nowadays and if you use the term (with the reduplication of the verb) you'll be considered highbrowed.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  16. shawnee

    shawnee Senior Member

    English - Australian
    Fantastic answer as we have come to expect from you apmoy. Ευχαριστώ.
    I should add that our media refers to such women as 'sex workers', which really isnt a euphemism at all.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
  17. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch: "dames van lichte zeden" (ladies lacking good morals, of light 'moral quality') - or of the light cavalry (but that is something I have just found somewhere, I did not know that).
  18. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hello Hamlet2508,
    Slut is frequently used as an insult ; it's harsh rather than a being euphemism for prostitute. Shouldn't a euphemism be mild or less direct?
  19. Hamlet2508 Senior Member

    ^You are absolutely right of course. Don't know what got into my head to post that word.
  20. Hamlet2508 Senior Member

    Quite common in parts of Austria though.
  21. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Call girl
    Woman of the night
  22. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch, another one: straatmadeliefje, street daisy...
  23. Maroseika Moderator

    I don't mean of course it's used in the colloquial speech, but as a newspaper eiphemism it is encountered.
  24. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    And another one in Greek which is now considered obsolete (it was the norm to name prostitutes like that in late 19th/early 20th c.):
    «Γυνὴ/γυναῖκαι ἐλευθερίων ἠθῶν»
    /ʝi'ni elefθe'rion i'θon/ (fem. nom. sing.) /ʝi'nece elefθe'rion i'θon/ (fem. nom. pl.) lit. "woman/women of free morals"
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  25. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    Speaking of obsolete terms,
    On the Atlantic coast of New Jersey there is a small Victorian resort town of Cape May. Like any resort town of that time it had a "red light" district, and apparently girls who worked it, were called saucy women. :)

    The reason I'm giving this detail is that I'm not sure if that was a regionalism or an overall AE term of the time (e.g. would the same term have been used, say, in San Francisco?).
  26. xmarabout

    xmarabout Senior Member

    French - Belgium
    In French, there are a lot of synonyms/euphemisms for prostitute:
    - femme de petite vertue (lit.:woman of light virtue)
    - femme de mauvaise vie (lit. woman of bad life)
    - femme publique (lit. public woman)
    - old: péripatéticienne, courtisane, ribaude
    - poetic : marchande d'amour (tradeswoman of love)
    - crude: putain, pute, marie-couche-toi-là, trainée, poule, câtin, ...
  27. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Actually, the usual word for "prostitute" in French is "fille". You can tell from the context whether it means "daughter" or "prostitute". If you want to say "girl" you should say "jeune fille", which bad translators render as "young girl".
  28. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    It's really-really interesting that you used the Greek word for the prostitute who solicits by street-walking (péripatéticienne) instead of the Latin circulatrix (which described the same concept).

    A few more in Ancient Greek:

    A) «Κασσαλβάς» kăssāl'bās (fem.) and «κάσσα» 'kāssă (fem.) from the masculine nouns «κασ(σ)ᾶς» kā's(s)ās and «κάσσος» 'kāssŏs --> a carpet or skin, felt, used particularly as a covering for a horse, a saddle to sit upon with obscure etymology (probably a Semitic or Persian loan). The Latin "scortum" which was the common name of whore for the Romans, is probably a calque of the Greek name(s) (and derives from the neut. noun "scortum" --> the skin of an animal, metaph. the female pudenda).
    B) «Χαμαιτύπη» xămæ'tūpē (fem.) a compound word: Adv. «χαμαὶ» xā'mæ --> on the earth, on the ground + verb «τύπτω» 'tūptō --> beat, strike, smite; according to Suidas Lexicon, «χαμαιτύπη» derives «ἀπὸ τοῦ χαμαὶ κειμένην ὀχεύεσθαι» (she copulates while lying on the ground).
  29. rayloom Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    Going back to ancient languages, Classical Arabic had also 2 euphemisms:
    -ذوات الأعلام dhawaat al-a3laam: Those of the flags. Since brothels actually had flags over them.
    -قحبة qa7ba, literally "cougher (f). Since prostitutes would signal men passing-by by coughing or "ahem"ing.
    The latter has become really offensive in modern Arabic, since the older meaning of the root is no longer used. Even the non-euphemistic terms in Classical Arabic have now become more neutral!
  30. leticiapuravida

    leticiapuravida Senior Member

    English (US) - Spanish (CR)
    In American English there is a whole range of euphemisms -- in addition to those above, you may hear "escort" (without "girl" - i don't know if I've ever heard that variant), "call girl", "lady of the night", "working girl", plus some others more insulting. Different ones are more appropriate in different contexts.

    The term "sex worker" is currently the most "politically correct", and also the most academic -- often used by those who are striving for neutrality in their use of the term, in the face of arguments on one side that prostitution is exploitative and demeaning, and, on the other side, that prostitution is a legitimate and potentially even empowering choice for generating income that should not be overlaid with terms that imply any moral judgement. In that contect, "sex worker" (possibly also by virtue of being a comparatively new term) seems the least "loaded' of the terms, the closest to being merely descriptive. Moreover, it is not gendered, unlike some of the other terms mentioned, which specifically refer to women.

    Having said all that, and going back to the context of tFighterPilot's original question. it is not the dominant term in the media. In the US, in a newspaper story, you're more likely to hear "prostitute", "escort", or "call girl". And "prostitute" tends to refer to sex workers who pick up clients on street corners, whereas "escort" and "call girl" almost always refer to sex workers whose services are arranged in advance.

    "Lady of the night" and "working girl" are much more "polite" terms, the kind of thing your grandmother, or someone trying to be especially delicate, might say.
  31. Maroseika Moderator

    I wonder what would think of it disciples of Aristotle...
  32. Villeggiatura Senior Member

    Greek: πτωχελένη (πτωχή - Ἑλένη, beggarly Helen)

    I've heard there was a term comtesse hygiénique used in aristocratic circles, could anyone please elaborate on that?
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2015
  33. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    [...] (reply to deleted post) The Greek ones are really euphemistic. I cannot think of euphemisms in Dutch...
  34. Panceltic Senior Member

    Ljubljana, Slovenia

    prijateljica noči (a friend of the night)
    pocestnica (one who is on the street)
    lahko dekle (an easy girl)

    I personally quite like the expressions hotnica and vlačuga :D They are a bit archaic, not used nowadays.

    Their profession is sometimes called najstarejša obrt (the oldest trade).
  35. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    Call girl(gái gọi), chick(gà), or girl(gái) in some contexts.
  36. 810senior

    810senior Senior Member

    I'm afraid I haven't ever seen and heard of an Euphemism for it in Japanese.

    Prostitute: 売春婦bai-shun-fu(sell-spring-lady) a lady who selling her spring (spring is a metaphor of having sex)
    (in a figurative way) 花売りhanauri(flower seller or the act of selling flowers), a flower here refers to female genitals figuratively and seldom is it used in formal speech but only in fictions.

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