Correctly or not, use of the word prostitute without specifying a sex may commonly be assumed to be female; compound terms such as male prostitution or male escort are therefore often used to identify males.Those offering services to female customers are commonly known as gigolos; those offering services to male customers are hustlers or rent boys.Although a popular etymology connects "hooker" with Joseph Hooker, a Union general in the American Civil War, the word more likely comes from the concentration of prostitutes around the shipyards and ferry terminal of the Corlear's Hook area of Manhattan in the 1820s, who came to be referred to as "hookers".A streetwalker solicits customers on the streets or in public places, while a call girl makes appointments by phone, or in recent years, through email or the internet.Those seeking to remove the social stigma associated with prostitution often promote terminology such as sex worker, commercial sex worker (CSW) or sex trade worker.Another commonly used word for a prostitute is hooker.Depending on the jurisdiction, prostitution law may deem commercial sex to be legal or illegal.A person who works in this field is called a prostitute, and is a type of sex worker.
In this sense, "prostituting oneself" or "whoring oneself" the services or acts performed are typically not sexual. In 2007, a Russian caricature depicted the Baltic states as three "ladies of the night", "vying for the attentions of Uncle Sam, since the Russian client has run out of money".
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.
Use of the word whore is widely considered pejorative, especially in its modern slang form of ho.
In Germany, however, most prostitutes' organizations deliberately use the word Hure (whore) since they feel that prostitute is a bureaucratic term.