har·​lot ˈhär-lət How to pronounce harlot (audio)
plural harlots
old-fashioned, disparaging
: a person who has sex with someone in exchange for money : prostitute
… the jewel-eyed harlots of his imagination …James Joyce
… the early-eighteenth-century world, where wigs don't stay on straight, clubmen fall over themselves in drunken stupors, and harlots make their way …Sanford Schwartz
… whose murdered body was covered with roses by a harlot who had loved him …Oscar Wilde

Examples of harlot in a Sentence

the touristy port town little resembled the haven for thieves, cutthroats, and harlots it had once been
Recent Examples on the Web This extends to cultural productions, where the reality of a Black person’s life often takes a back seat to myriad stereotypes: the Tragic Mulatto, the Uncle Tom, the minstrel fool, the oversexed harlot and the caring mammy, to name only a few. Ismail Muhammad, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2022 His daughter-in-law Tamar, who had been widowed from two of Yehuda’s sons and was blocked by Yehuda from marrying the third, dresses as a harlot and has relations with Yehuda. Rabbi Avi Weiss, sun-sentinel.com, 21 Dec. 2020 What also fascinated me is in many ways, the harlots had more agency than aristocratic women. Morena Duwe, Billboard, 26 Aug. 2019 The three harlots are played tiresomely, without weight or seriousness. Alastair MacAulay, New York Times, 15 June 2018 When Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky surfaced in 1998, conservatives attacked him as the symbol of a lost and immoral society, while liberals minimized his offenses and portrayed the young intern as a harlot. Laila Lalami, New York Times, 26 June 2018 Gamblers, occultists, harlots, castrato singers, and masked revelers populated the galleries alongside beautifully crafted wall sconces, ball gowns, and porcelain tureens. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, BostonGlobe.com, 3 Mar. 2018 Carla Stewart captures the complexities of Shug Avery, the harlot with the heart of gold, in a robust performance, finding her own mix of tragedy and triumph, which motivates Celie to move toward her own freedom. Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com, 21 Feb. 2018 She was branded as a harlot; Viacom and its subsidiaries stopped playing her songs and videos. Jack Dickey, SI.com, 2 Feb. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'harlot.' 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, rogue, buffoon, female prostitute, from Anglo-French herlot beggar, vagabond

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of harlot was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near harlot

Cite this Entry

“Harlot.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harlot. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

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