Synonyms for Prostitute

While there are terms in English to refer to a promiscuous man, such as Casanova, Don Juan, himbo, lady’s man, Lothario, and rake, there aren’t many. And, curiously, few of them have a pejorative air.

From a feminist perspective, it is arguable that men have largely been interested in controlling female sexuality, and our language reflects this in its paucity of terms for a “loose man.” Although fanciful at times, the verbal duel between two prostitutes in John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor makes this matter clear. Let’s take a look, in media res:

“The truth is,” said the dealer, “Grace here’s a hooker.”

“A what?” asked the poet.

“A hooker,” the woman repeated with a wink. “A quail, don’t ye know.”

“A quail!” the woman named Grace shrieked. “You call me a quail, you, you gaullefretierer

“Whore!” shouted the first.

“Bas-cul!” retorted the other.










































“Femme de vie!”



“Ladies! Ladies!” the Laureate cried, but by this time the cardplayers, including the two disputants, were possessed with mirth, and paid him no heed.

“Coxswain!” shouted the one whose turn it was to play.

“Trottterel” Grace replied.

















“Tireuse de vinaigre!”




“Pretresse du membre!”


















“Tendriere de bouche et reins!”




“Femme de mal recapte!”














“Dear God in Heav’n, cease!” Ebenezer commanded, so overwhelmed by their debate that with his hands over his ears he reeled about the room as if each epithet were a blow to the head.

“Nay, by Christ, ‘tis a war to the end!” cried the dealer. “Would ye have old England surrender to the French? Why, she’s naught but a common meatcooker!”

“And you a janneton!” the other replied gleefully.


“Fillette de pis!”


“Demoiselle de moraise”







“Court taloner!”


“Folle de corps!”




“Fille d’ joie!”



“Tess Tuppence!”



“Entaitte d’amour!”



























“Charlotte Harlot!”


“Balances de boucher!”


“Femme de peche!”

















“Levriere d’amour!”




“Linatte coiffee!”













“Foul-mouthed harridans!” Ebenezer cried, and fled through the first door he encountered.

12 thoughts on “Synonyms for Prostitute

  1. Stoner December 15, 2014 / 5:01 pm

    When refering to men, you forgot mangina.


  2. Joe Stephenson December 15, 2014 / 8:39 pm



    • blr0 December 18, 2014 / 6:39 pm

      A friend of mine, upon hearing the entries in that table read aloud in rapid succession, immediately responded by singing, “These are the people in your neighborhood …”


  3. Ryan Godfrey (@rgodfrey) December 17, 2014 / 3:02 pm

    The “Sot-Weed” excerpt here seems to be taken from an OCR source and has a number of typos and missing entries (about 30) from the exchange. It’s not clear in this format (missing italics and diacritics) that Grace is French, so this game of oneupsmollship is a strictly alternating duel of Anglo-Saxon and Gallic prurient ingenuities.

    All of the rejoinders end in exclamation marks (bangs, if you will), which in a few cases have been identified as terminal ‘l’ characters: “Poupinettel”, “Chouettel”, “Trottterel”, “Rigpettel” for “Poupinette!”, “Chouette!”, “Trottière!”, “Rigobette!” et al.

    Those missing completely are all French, I believe: “Saffrette!”, “Gast!”, “Bagasser!”, “Blanchisseuse des pipes!”, “Manafle!” and a few dozen others.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike December 17, 2014 / 3:24 pm

    Another term for sluttish men is “swordsman,” although the sense doesn’t seem to be in major dictionaries (except for the Urban Dictionary). It’s used to heartbreaking effect by Robertson Davies in the Deptford Trilogy when David, the young hero, hears the term applied to his father, misunderstands it completely to mean gallant and like a cavalier, and then goes around repeating it to everyone, thereby humiliating himself when someone finally explains it to him.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mededitor December 17, 2014 / 5:34 pm

    Ryan: Correct. However, the text was to support a point, and not an examination of Barth’s book from a critical perspective. When I get a chance to find my paper copy I’ll clean up this entry. Thanks for spotting the omissions. I deleted anything that was obviously mangled in OCR.


  6. AMP December 18, 2014 / 2:31 am

    I feel like in recent years slut and whore have become available to describe men who are more generous with their affections than the speaker finds seemly. I know I’ve used them and not had anyone react like I had done anything innovative, and I think (although I would not swear) that I’ve heard them from others.


  7. Chips December 18, 2014 / 10:16 pm

    There is one word for a male prostitute which is pejorative: gigolo, the masculine back formation from gigolette.


  8. John Cowan December 25, 2014 / 3:09 am

    I understand coneycatcher to be a name for a man or woman who induces young women to become prostitutes, both by the literal meaning ‘rabbit-catcher’ and of course by the pun coney ~ cunny.

    Liked by 1 person

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