broth·​el | \ ˈbrä-thəl How to pronounce brothel (audio) , ˈbrȯ- How to pronounce brothel (audio) also -t͟həl \
plural brothels

Definition of brothel

: 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 The difference between what exists at the moment and, say, a brothel denizen on Westworld is the difference between an ox cart and a Tesla. Sam Lipsyte, Harper’s Magazine , 27 Apr. 2022 Krell charged the motel owner and manager with conspiracy to commit prostitution and pimping — essentially, owning and operating a brothel. Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2022 Born in 1775, historians speculate that Madame Ching may have started out as a prostitute or madame on a floating brothel. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 3 Apr. 2022 Their success at eluding Daiyu’s predatory madam and the Hip Yee tong, the bloodthirsty gang that controls the brothel, is one of many junctures where Zhang’s novel seems to tilt toward a conventional redemption story. New York Times, 3 Apr. 2022 The story focus on a forlorn band of prostitutes, forced to pick sides when the American military invades and the soldiers hole up in their seaside brothel. Emiliano De Pablos, Variety, 18 Feb. 2022 An early and influential example is the journalist and novelist Jorge Ibargüengoitia’s The Dead Girls (1977), a novel about killings at a brothel written to resemble a police report, and based on real events. Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo, The New York Review of Books, 14 Jan. 2021 Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s spectacle about Ganga’s rise from a demure small-town girl who’s forcefully sold off to a brothel, to the queen of Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red-light district, is inching towards the Rs100 crore club. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 7 Mar. 2022 During their stays in the neighborhood between jobs or over holidays, laborers might send letters home, visit a barber or brothel, or gamble in a game of pai gow dominoes. Bridget Alex, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brothel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of brothel

1566, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for brothel

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

Learn More About brothel

Time Traveler for brothel

Time Traveler

The first known use of brothel was in 1566

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near brothel




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for brothel

Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Brothel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on brothel Encyclopedia article about brothel


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!