house


house
   1. a brothel
   Literally, a dwelling or any other building given over to a special purpose, such as a theatre or debating chamber. The use for a brothel tout court is obsolete, along with house of accommodation or assignation (which let rooms for casual copulation); house in the suburbs, of civil reception, of profession, of resort, of sale, of sin, of tolerance, etc.:
    Some the girls about here live in houses. (Mayhew, 1862 — but not chastely with their families)
    They enter houses of accommodation, which they prefer to going with them to their lodgings, (ibid., writing about prostitutes)
    ... keepers of houses of assignation, where [ladies of intrigue] might carry on their amours with secrecy, (ibid.)
    I was as well acquainted here as I was in our house of profession. (Shakespeare, Measure for Measure)
    Shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be pull'd down? (ibid.)
    I saw him enter such a house of sale — Videlicet, a brothel. (Shakespeare, Hamlet)
   Common house, ill-famed house, scalding house (where you were likely to contract disease), and introducing house are also obsolete:
    Lord Euston was said to have gone to an illfamed house. (F. Harris, 1925)
    His eager beaver interest in an 'introducing house' in St George's Road, near Lupus Street, was particularly resented by his colleagues as it catered almost exclusively to Members of Parliament. (Pearsall, 1969 — I'm surprised it was not called a house of commons. The busybody was Gladstone, whose obsession with female prostitution and casual contacts on the streets with prostitutes would cause greater comment today than they did then)
   Current euphemisms include house of evil or ill repute, house of pleasure, and house of ill fame:
    I had to live in a house which was little better than a house of ill fame. (Foreman, 1998, quoting a letter written in 1795)
    A girl who had been forced into a house of ill-repute... (Lavine, 1930)
    In Bangkok we saw some blue movies in a palatial house of pleasure. (Whicker, 1982 — it was not a cinema. His companion was Randolph Churchill)
   2. obsolete a lavatory
   Again, the building given over to a particular purpose. Although Dr Johnson defines lavatories as houses, he does not so define a house.
   In varying compounds such as house of commons, of ease, of lords, and of office:
    I had like to have shit in a skimmer that day over the house of office. (Pepys, 1660)
   3. obsolete
   an institution for the homeless
   A shortened form of the dread workhouse, which was also known as a house of industry:
    Many old people... have to enter the 'house', as it is nick-named, like humble suppliants. (F. Gordon, 1885)
    The House of Industry for the reception of the poor of eleven of our fourteen parishes. (Peshall, 1773)
   4. intended to avert criticism for prejudice
   The usage implies tameness where a person is appointed in an attempt to be politically correct:
    ... dude called Washington Lee was a brother, not the house nigger on some editorial board. (Mclnerney, 1992)
   See also obligatory, statutory, and token.

How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms. . 2014.

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