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The English word whore derives from the Old English word hōra, from the Proto-Germanic *hōrōn (prostitute), which derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *keh₂- meaning "desire", a root which has also given us Latin cārus (dear), whence the French cher (dear, expensive) and the Latin cāritās (love, charity).
Use of the word whore is widely considered pejorative, especially in its modern slang form of ho.
Those offering services to female customers are commonly known as gigolos; those offering services to male customers are hustlers or rent boys.
Clients of prostitutes, most often men by prevalence, are sometimes known as johns or tricks in North America and punters in the British Isles.
Most sex worker activists groups reject the word prostitute and since the late 1970s have used the term sex worker instead.
It is sometimes referred to euphemistically as "the world's oldest profession" in the English-speaking world.
It is one branch of the sex industry, along with pornography, stripping, and erotic dancing.
Brothels are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution.
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.
In the Code of Hammurabi, provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes.
In escort prostitution, the act may take place at the client's residence or hotel room (referred to as out-call), or at the escort's residence or a hotel room rented for the occasion by the escort (in-call). Although the majority of prostitutes are female and have male clients, a prostitute can be, and have clients, of any gender or sexual orientation.