broth·​el ˈbrä-thəl How to pronounce brothel (audio) ˈbrȯ- How to pronounce brothel (audio)
 also  -t͟həl
plural brothels
: a building in which prostitutes are available
For recreation, there were bars, after-hours joints, pool halls, strip joints, brothels, and transient motels.Darlene Nall
Elizaveta is happy to become the madam of a high-class brothel.Jonathan Fast
In the brutal red-light district of Chicago, at the dawn of the 20th century, most brothels emphasized "efficiency instead of fantasy."Ada Calhoun

Examples of brothel in a Sentence

the district is infamous for its brothels and drug dealers
Recent Examples on the Web Women were featured on websites that falsely claimed to advertise nude Asian models for professional photography, and high-end apartments with monthly rents as high as $3,660 were used as brothels, prosecutors say. Alanna Durkin Richer, Fortune, 8 Nov. 2023 Larkin and Lacey faced federal trial in 2021 in a proceeding that was set to see prosecutors call two former Backpage executives to testify that the website was essentially an online brothel. Richard Ruelas, USA TODAY, 2 Aug. 2023 These were cheaper paintings that could be sold via auction or lottery and hang in family homes, butcher shops, or brothels. Zachary Fine, The New Yorker, 3 Nov. 2023 Feeling out of place in a current world, clinging to old world values such as virility but, as captured in a first scene in a brothel, Toribio can’t even get it up. John Hopewell, Variety, 1 Nov. 2023 Instead, Boten’s few thousand residents are overwhelmingly Chinese workers building new residential towers and those working in services catering to them — Chinese restaurants, Chinese shops and brothels. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2023 By night, young women sit outside brothels bathed in purple and pink neon lights, while their handlers try to cajole Chinese men walking outside to come in. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2023 These human stories unfold against a backdrop of enormous human suffering in the prisons, workhouses, brothels and streets. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Oct. 2023 But relations between the two countries remain troubled by Japanese right-wing denials that Korean women were forced to work in Japanese military brothels. Ian Buruma, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'brothel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, worthless fellow, prostitute, from brothen, past participle of brethen to waste away, go to ruin, from Old English brēothan to waste away; akin to Old English brēotan to break — more at brittle

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of brothel was in 1566

Dictionary Entries Near brothel

Cite this Entry

“Brothel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

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