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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.
    • William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors: Act 5, scene 1, 204–205
      This day, great duke, she shut the doors upon me, / While she with harlots feasted in my house.
    • 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.
    • 1980, Dave Murray, "Charlotte the Harlot", in Iron Maiden, 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
  3. (obsolete) A churl; a common man; a person, male or female, of low birth.
    • Geoffrey Chaucer, General Prologue:
      He was a gentil harlot and a kynde;
  4. (obsolete) A person given to low conduct; a rogue; a cheat; a rascal.
    • Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘’The fight at the miller’s house’’:
      "Ye, false harlot," quod the millere, "hast? A, false traitor! false clerk!" quod he, Tow shalt be deed, by Goddes dignitee!




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.



harlot (comparative more harlot, superlative most harlot)

  1. (now uncommon) Wanton; lewd; low; base.
    • 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....