8 Wintry Words to Defrost Your Vocabulary


[broth-uh l, broth -, braw-thuh l, -th uh l] /ˈbrɒθ əl, ˈbrɒð-, ˈbrɔ θəl, -ðəl/
a house of prostitution.
1350-1400 for earlier sense; short for brothel-house whore-house; Middle English brothel harlot, orig. worthless person, equivalent to broth- (past participle stem of brethen, Old English brēothan to decay, degenerate) + -el noun suffix
Related forms
brothellike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for brothels
  • He had several lovers and visited brothels frequently.
  • The economic contribution of brothels is one of the reasons that support for them endures.
  • Despite pressure from human-rights groups, the brothels flourish a mile from gleaming corporate buildings.
  • It's home to numerous well-tolerated legal brothels, more testament to that libertarian spirit.
  • German brothels serve lettuce to stimulate their clients.
  • As a countermeasure, camp brothels were set up, and the task of punishment was delegated to specially selected prisoners.
  • He also enjoyed the torturers in the local brothels.
  • Not surprisingly, illicit brothels continued to thrive.
  • Surely chains of branded brothels competing with each other would raise the standards for worker and customer alike.
  • Three brothels are visible from the town-centre offices of the minister of social affairs.
British Dictionary definitions for brothels


a house or other place where men pay to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes
(Austral, informal) any untidy or messy place
Word Origin
C16: short for brothel-house, from C14 brothel useless person, from Old English brēothan to deteriorate; related to briethel worthless
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for brothels



"bawdy house," 1590s, shortened from brothel-house, from brothel "prostitute" (late 15c.), earlier "vile, worthless person" of either sex (14c.), from Old English broðen past participle of breoðan "deteriorate, go to ruin," from Proto-Germanic *breuthanan, variant of *breutanan "to break" (cf. brittle). In 16c. brothel-house was confused with unrelated bordel (see bordello) and the word shifted meaning from a person to a place.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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