The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition) reads:

gigolo, n. A man who has a continuing sexual relationship with and receives financial support from a woman.

Is there an English word [X] which fits the following definition?

[X], n. A woman who has a continuing sexual relationship with and receives financial support from a man.

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    Isn't it just "prostitute"? Isn't that assumed to be female? – rsegal Aug 7 '12 at 11:52
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    Prostitutes do not have a continuing sexual relationship with and receives financial support from a man. – Elberich Schneider Aug 7 '12 at 11:56
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    Prostitute seems fine to me. See where this link ends up: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigolo – Andrew Leach Aug 7 '12 at 11:59
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    Actually, I think the initial premise is wrong. What you describe is a toy boy, not a gigolo. – Andrew Leach Aug 7 '12 at 12:03
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    @AndrewLeach Except that toy boy (or boy toy) does not carry with it the notion of predominantly female clientele that gigolo seems to. – tchrist Aug 7 '12 at 12:35

14 Answers 14


There might have been a word to match the definition, once upon a time.

The English took the word gigolo from the French in the 1920s.

But the word was rather recent in the French language at the time. It had appeared in French, together with its feminine equivalent gigolette, in the middle of the 19th century.

What’s interesting is that there are two suspected origins to the words gigolo and gigolette in French. One of them is that both words derive from the Old English word giglet or giglot, which the OED defines as:

† a.  Originally, a lewd, wanton woman (obs.).
   b.  A giddy, laughing, romping girl.

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  • +1 one for interesting possible derivation from English. – user14070 Aug 7 '12 at 18:01
  • wow interesting spectrum – user60812 Aug 8 '12 at 0:52

There is "mistress".

7. A woman other than his wife with whom a man has a long-lasting sexual relationship. [OED]

Also "kept woman".

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    I think 'mistress' is the most parallel. – ncmathsadist Aug 7 '12 at 15:28
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    @coleopterist, I wonder what that suggests about the society we live in. :P – ardent Aug 7 '12 at 17:31
  • Woah. I didn't know there was a "populist" badge... – GEdgar Aug 8 '12 at 14:03
  • mistress doesn't make any sense -1 – Rogue Shakuras Jul 19 '15 at 22:00

I believe it would be "kept woman". Take a look at the definition at Cambridge Dictionary Online:

someone who does not work but is instead given money and a place to live by the person she or he is having a sexual relationship with

It seems to be the closest parallel for a female gigolo. Mistress, on the other hand, does not necessarily receives financial support, even if it may be common.

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    See @Gedgar's answer. – coleopterist Aug 7 '12 at 16:20
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    Yes, I saw it. But I disagree with the part he mentions "mistress" for it doesn't necessarily involves money. – Rodrigo Guedes Aug 7 '12 at 16:30
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    In that case, please expand on this distinction by adding to your answer. That said, mistresses usually are 'kept'. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistress_(lover). – coleopterist Aug 7 '12 at 16:39
  • thefreedictionary.com defines "mistress" as "A woman who has a continuing sexual relationship with a usually married man who is not her husband and from whom she generally receives material support." I've always understood the idea of mistress to involve financial support. – Jay Aug 7 '12 at 21:05
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    @coleopterist: If you read that Wikipedia entry you'll see that the implication of keptness is historical. Today, at least in the U.S., the word mistress carries much less, if any, implication of financial support. While mistress may still be understood by some to mean kept woman, why not just be explicit and say kept woman? – John Y Aug 8 '12 at 21:51

You might consider concubine, courtesan, or even châtelaine more suitable for a longtime paramour than the simple harlot or streetwalker implies.

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  • Courtesan is a good suggestion. Châtelaine, however, means 'mistress of the house', or even 'lady of the manor'; not so good. – Tim Lymington Sep 20 '12 at 22:47
  • @tchrist I agree with the first two suggestions but would you please provide some elaboration or references to go alongside the references? – Tonepoet Jul 18 '15 at 14:52
  • the online Merriam Webster dictionary, for 'courtesan', has: "a woman who has sex with rich or important men in exchange for money : a prostitute who has sex with wealthy and powerful men" – user58319 Jul 24 '15 at 1:11
  • In French, at least, 'gigolo' is not really derogatory, and neither is 'courtisane': both (like to think they) have style, are not simple prostitutes. I feel that the status of a 'gigolo' and of a 'courtesan' are closest. – user58319 Jul 24 '15 at 1:16

Because of the asymmetry of relations between men and women, there are few real world instances of a conceptual counterpart to 'gigolo' that is female. And though this doesn't imply necessity, there is no word in English that captures this concept.

The closest thing you can come up with is the compound 'female gigolo', which sounds a bit incongruous given that, while there are many words for women that are not exact counterparts to 'gigolo', they are in the general area. Any possible counterparts are either too general or too specific. (e.g. 'concubine', which I find the closest, has too many connotations of class, monetary situation, legality, cultural and religious association).

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  • +1 for highlighting the real-world asymmetry of gender relations. Maybe the asymmetry is slowly decreasing, but it is very far from gone. – John Y Aug 8 '12 at 21:56

"Gold Digger" is the term that comes to mind for me if slang is acceptable. The similarities are that a gold digger can be assumed to be an attractive female who can change men at will, and chooses to stay with whoever spends the most on her. Not a prostitute, but a fair weather companion more or less.

I think this fits better than kept woman or mistress because in those two situations the woman is considered to be more attached and long term of a partner, with a clear goal of obtaining financial benefit from the relationship. Kept woman has the implication that the male is arranging the situation, while a mistress isn't necessarily financially motivated.

The Kanye West song of the same name explains it pretty well too. :-)

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    +1 for encourgement of enriching oneself with Kanye West. – Chad Harrison Aug 7 '12 at 17:19
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    I think the implication of "gold digger" is that her motivation is covert. She pretends to be in a emotional relationship to exploit her lover economically. With "kept women", the financial nature of the relationship is overt and agreed-to. – Malvolio Aug 7 '12 at 19:05
  • A gold digger is looking to make money out of someone, a gigolo would at least want the fee agreed up-front. – Jon Hanna Aug 7 '12 at 20:33

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the term "sugar baby", although you won't find that in any heritage dictionaries. It has many results on UrbanDictionary.com though:

It has the counterpart word "sugar daddy" to refer to the man who is providing the "financial support". I suspect you're curious, rather than personally interested, but either way, here's some general career advice for aspiring sugar babies:

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A gigolette is mentioned here, but I cannot find the reference in English dictionaries.

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    You won't find it in an English dictionary. You are giving a link to a French Thesaurus, not to a translation dictionary. And it says the word is obsolete, and I confirm it is very obsolete and would not be understood as the feminine form of gigolo by most French people. – None Aug 7 '12 at 16:29
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    Gigolo and Gigolette is the name of a 1935 short story by W. Somerset Maugham.¹ – MetaEd Aug 7 '12 at 16:50
  • @ΜετάEd: A short story that takes place on the French Riveria. The "French touch" in the title is obviously deliberate. – None Aug 7 '12 at 17:10
  • It is mentioned in the etymology of Gigolo in fifth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary but it is not an entry of its own, suggesting that it never made the transition over into the English language – Tonepoet Jul 18 '15 at 14:41

What about an Escort ?

Female “companions” come in all shapes, sizes and prices. However, the ones we hear about the most are the high class escorts who make an incredible living being the recipients of both cash and prizes.

In fact, in many instances, these Escorts make as much as some of the traders on Wall Street.

Another dictionary reference for Gigolette : A woman who seeks the company and support of rich, older men.

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Since no one else mentioned it yet, I believe the term call girl has many of the same connotations as gigolo but for females.

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The word doxy has had different implications over its lifetime, but has at times corresponded with gigolo pretty well.

Since it's now pretty much obsolete, this is no longer the case.

In all, I'd say whore is the best match. It doesn't align very well in terms of nuance, but then that's precisely the nature of the society that gave us gigolos and whores; they don't align fairly.

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I've seen hetaira, plural hetairai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hetaira) used.

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Closest term I can think of is Call-girl. It's a prevalent term when it comes to defining a female that is sexually involved for money in return.

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trophy wife/girlfriend: a young, attractive woman who is the partner of a rich and successful older man and acts as a symbol of his social position

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