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The meaning and origin of the expression: A house of ill repute

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A house of ill repute

Meaning

Euphemism for brothel.

Origin

'House of ill repute' is known to have been used since the 18th century. Prior to that the term more often used was 'house of ill fame' or 'house of accommodation'. These euphemisms appear frequently in literature in the 17th century.

The playwright John Vanbrugh provides us with the first example of 'house of ill repute' in print, in his play Journey to London, circa 1728:

He was never in London before but one week and then he was kidnapp'd into a House of ill Repute.