And Incidentally

Article excerpt

Byline: PETE CLARK

CONSIDERING they have been around for many centuries, the proposed legalisation of brothels has been a long time coming.

The word, currently defined as a house or other place where men pay to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes, has been around for a while.

Its etymological origin lies in the Old English word breothan, meaning to deteriorate, and was related to briethel, which meant worthless. Around 1393, brothel was in use as a description of a worthless person and a century later, was understood specifically to indicate a prostitute.

By the 16th century, prostitutes had pooled their resources and come together to do business in a brothel-house. Later the compound noun was simplified by the dropping of "house", which meant that the place where prostitutes did their business en masse had now taken on the name of the prostitutes themselves - building and occupants in perfect harmony.

The word brothel shares no etymological root with the Italian bordello, although it would be impossible to insert a credit card between the meanings of the two. True to unjudgmental type, bordello comes from the Old French borde, meaning simply a hut or cabin. A place to do business, in other words, and no aspersions cast. …