Updated: AUGUST 10, 2015

Bordello is a term for a building where prostitutes meet and service their clients. It is an Italian word which originated between 1590 and 1600. Its etymology is from the Old French word bordel, meaning "wooden hut," which aptly describes the appearance of the first bordellos.

Whorehouse and brothel are common synonyms for bordello. The word bordello has fallen out of common usage although it is still used in some period novels.

More About Bordello

Bordellos are typically overseen by madams or pimps who take a percentage of the house's proceeds. Bordellos vary in size, style, and the types of sexual services they offer. These establishments are generally run illegally except in locations where prostitution is regulated and legal. Even in places where prostitution has been legalized, bordellos may need to adhere to various guidelines. These guidelines may determine the age of the prostitutes employed or specify the sex acts that they are allowed to perform, the type of advertising that is allowed, or whether or not they can sell or allow the consumption of alcohol on the premises.

While bordello and brothel are generally regarded as synonyms, many feel the term bordello carries more positive connotations. While the term bordello denotes an establishment that is tolerated, or even respected, the word brothel has more negative connotations that suggest filth, depravity, and illegal activity.


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