They sure are not called call girls or hookers (absolutely not!). I don't believe "call girls" because these are people working in an establishment, right there, not making calls, not that 'kind'. Prostitute is a general terms for all such people who sell their body for pleasure. Hooker is someone you Meet, I believe. So is there an actual terms for such service people? Gracitas

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    I believe that "sex workers" is the most "politically correct" term in the US these days.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 12:55
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    @HotLicks Yes that's what they are called here too.
    – WS2
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 13:06
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    How rude or euphemistic do you want to be?
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 18:17
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    "Am I my brothel's keeper?" Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 19:36
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    As well as the service providers, are you intending to include the piano player, towel boys and the mama-san? Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 22:39

4 Answers 4


"Sex workers" is the term used by licensed Social Workers, the medical community, women's (and men's) support groups, and the media when referring in an unbiased way to those who "sell their bodies for pleasure."

From Wikipedia:

"A sex worker is a person who is employed in the sex industry.[1][2] The term is used in reference to all those in all areas of the sex industry including those who provide direct sexual services as well as the staff of such industries."

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_worker for additional information.

  • gracitas di novu Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 13:44
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    sex worker is an ambiguous term. It might mean a porn star, stripper, cam girl, etc. It's a very imprecise term, and largely associated with being politically correct. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 14:20
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    @SteveSether - Generally, when people identify themselves by a certain descriptor (such as sex worker), it has moved beyond political correctness to common and acceptable usage. Please read the cited Wikipedia article. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 14:26
  • @MarkHubbard This is language usage, not how you'd personally like language to be used. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 15:03
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    I have no word preference or personal interest in the matter whatsoever. This is English language usage, plain and simple. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 18:06

"Sex worker" is the term, but "brothel worker" is also used, not as broadly as sex worker, though.

The brothel worker: 'I regret not working in the sex trade as soon as I got here'

[Source: theguardian.com]

Missing Love Ranch brothel worker found safe; friends said she disappeared after Lamar Odom's hospitalization

[Source: nydailynews.com]

You can use "hooker", also (it is not absolutely wrong) as in the above linked article shows.

The Love Ranch hooker who partied with Lamar Odom then reportedly went missing has been found.


I agree that "brothel worker" would be a specific term for someone performing work in an actual brothel, but so much of sex industry business is conducted on the street. "Streetwalker" is a term that I've heard used, as well as "escort" depending on context.

Here's an excerpt from an informational PDF that's upload-able at "www.safersexwrok.ca":

  • Who Are Sex Workers? ----------------- “Sex worker” is a term used to refer to adults (19 years and older) who exchange sexual services for money which necessarily, but not exclusively, includes direct physical sexual contact with clients. Thus, sex workers are adults who earn at least part of their income through the sale of direct sexual contact. Included in this term are those who engage in outdoor street-level sex work, as well as those who work indoors in their homes, clients’ homes, or in commercial venues. The latter includes escorts, erotic masseurs, exotic dancers, BDSM practitioners – this term is an acronym that stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism or sadism and masochism. It refers to a continuum of practices and expressions, both erotic and non-erotic, involving restraint, sensory stimulation, role-playing, and a variety of interpersonal dynamics – and the like. ----------------- You might wonder why many people working in the sex industry prefer the term “sex worker” over “prostitute”. For many sex workers, as well as advocacy groups working on their behalf, prostitute is a stigmatizing term because it has specific legal associations/implications. Conversely, the term sex worker emphasizes the work relations of the individuals involved. As such, they should be entitled to the same rights and responsibility as all other workers in Canada, including fair and equal treatment by managers and clients, health and safety at work, employment benefits, and legal protections. ------------------ The term sex worker also encourages us to envision individuals engaged in this kind of economic activity as complex people whose worker status is just one aspect of their self-identity. Having said this, not everyone in the industry identifies with this term, and some may prefer to call themselves something else.".

The website also has a lengthy list of references.


We used to have more class and they went by many names. I think Courtesan, madam…maybe Matron. I know I’m missing a few. The more long term ones were consorts, right? I’m pretty sure any brothel worker would prefer any of these to Sex Worker or Brothel Worker.

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    A madam or matron is something more specific - a woman who controls prostitutes. You should research your terms and post links.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 10:28

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