A literal translation therefore is: "to put up front for sale" or "to place forward".
The Online Etymology Dictionary states, "The notion of 'sex for hire' is not inherent in the etymology, which rather suggests one 'exposed to lust' or sex 'indiscriminately offered.'" The word prostitute was then carried down through various languages to the present-day Western society.
More formally, one who is said to practice procuring is a procurer, or procuress.
The clients of prostitutes are also known as johns or tricks in North America and punters in the British Isles.
Some prostitutes in ancient Greece, such as Lais were as famous for their company as their beauty, and some of these women charged extraordinary sums for their services.
Prostitution in ancient Rome was legal, public, and widespread.
In some places, men who drive around red-light districts for the purpose of soliciting prostitutes are also known as kerb crawlers. Sex work researcher and writer Gail Pheterson says that this additional definition exists because "the term "prostitute" gradually took on a Christian moralist tradition, as being synonymous with debasement of oneself or of others for the purpose of ill-gotten gains".
The word "prostitution" can also be used metaphorically to mean debasing oneself or working towards an unworthy cause or "selling out". In the Ancient Near East along the Tigris–Euphrates river system there were many shrines and temples or "houses of heaven" dedicated to various deities documented by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in The Histories As early as the 18th century BC, ancient Mesopotamia recognized the need to protect women's property rights.
They were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes.
Some similarities have been found between the Greek hetaera, the Japanese oiran, and also the Indian tawaif.
In this sense, "prostituting oneself" or "whoring oneself" the services or acts performed are typically not sexual. In the Code of Hammurabi, provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes.
For instance, in the book, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield says of his brother ("D. According to Zohar and the Alphabet of Ben Sira, there were four angels of sacred prostitution, who mated with archangel Samael.
Those offering services to female customers are commonly known as gigolos; those offering services to male customers are hustlers or rent boys.