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From Middle English harlot, from Old French harlot, herlot, arlot (vagabond; tramp), of obscure origin. Likely ultimately of Germanic origin, either from a derivation of *harjaz (army; camp; warrior; military leader) or from a diminutive of *karilaz (man; fellow). Compare English carlot.



harlot (plural harlots)

  1. (derogatory, offensive, dated) A female prostitute.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:prostitute
    • c. 1594, William Shakespeare, “The Comedie of Errors”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene i], lines 204-205, page 98:
      This day (great Duke) ſhe ſhut the doores vpon me, / While she with Harlots feaſted in my housſe.
    • 1890, William Booth, chapter 6, in In Darkest England and the Way Out[1]:
      The bastard of a harlot, born in a brothel, suckled on gin, and familiar from earliest infancy with all the bestialities of debauch, []
    • 1908, William Blake, To the Accuser Who Is the God of This World:
      Truly, My Satan, thou art but a Dunce, / And dost not know the Garment from the Man. / Every Harlot was a Virgin once, / Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan.
    • 1915, W[illiam] Somerset Maugham, chapter LXXVII, in Of Human Bondage, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, OCLC 890513588:
      He was stopped by a painted harlot, who put her hand on his arm; he pushed her violently away with brutal words.
    • 1918, Robert Louis Stevenson, “Hail! Childish Slaves Of Social Rules”, in New Poems and Variant Readings[2], London: Chatto & Windus:
      O fine religious, decent folk, / In Virtue’s flaunting gold and scarlet, / I sneer between two puffs of smoke,— / Give me the publican and harlot.
    • 1980, Dave Murray (lyrics and music), “Charlotte the Harlot”, in Iron Maiden, performed by Iron Maiden:
      Charlotte the Harlot show me your legs, / Charlotte the Harlot take me to bed. / Charlotte the Harlot let me see blood, / Charlotte the Harlot let me see love.
  2. (derogatory, offensive) A female who is considered promiscuous.
    Synonyms: skeezer, slut, whore; see also Thesaurus:promiscuous woman
  3. (obsolete) A churl; a common man; a person, male or female, of low birth.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:rural dweller
  4. (obsolete) A person given to low conduct; a rogue; a cheat; a rascal.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:villain

Derived terms[edit]



harlot (third-person singular simple present harlots, present participle harloting or harlotting, simple past and past participle harloted or harlotted)

  1. To play the harlot; to practice lewdness.
    Synonyms: harlotize; see also Thesaurus:harlotize


harlot (comparative more harlot, superlative most harlot)

  1. (now uncommon) Wanton; lewd; low; base.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:obscene
    • 1943, Nick Joaquin, “It was Later than we Thought”, in Philippine Review:
      The intellection in it, kiddo—the intellection.... That most harlot of harlots... talking of me, laughing at me... I'll kill her....