Women: whore, hooker, call girl, business girl (B-girl), streetwalker, trollop, strumpet, courtesan, escort, lady of the evening, working girl, doxy, scarlet woman, harlot, drab Men: Rent boy, male escort, gigolo, lad model, gent of the night, sporting boy, weeping willy or some other benefit.Prostitution is sometimes described as commercial sex or hooking.

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There are about 42 million prostitutes in the world, living all over the world (though most of Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa lacks data, studied countries in that large region rank as top sex tourism destinations).

Another explanation is that prostituta is a composition of pro and statuere (to cause to stand, to station, place erect).

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.

Most sex worker activists groups reject the word prostitute and since the late 1970s have used the term sex worker instead.

However, sex worker can also mean anyone who works within the sex industry or whose work is of a sexual nature and is not limited solely to prostitutes.

A variety of terms are used for those who engage in prostitution, some of which distinguish between different types of prostitution or imply a value judgment about them.

Prostitution is one of the branches of the sex industry: other branches include pornography, stripping, nude modeling, and erotic dancing.

The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country (sometimes from region to region within a given country), ranging from being permissible but unregulated, to an enforced or unenforced crime, or a regulated profession.