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The meaning and origin of the expression: A lady of the night

A lady of the night

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'A lady of the night'?

Euphemism for prostitute.

What's the origin of the phrase 'A lady of the night'?

'Lady of the night' has a long history as a phrase in English. Before it came into use as a synonym for 'prostitute' it was already well known to the population in England with another meaning, that is, 'the moon'. There is an early example of that usage in print. In fact it is one of the very earliest possible, as it was printed by Caxton in 1480 in The Court of Sapience:

Fare well saturne, Ioue, mars & Phebus briȝt..
Fare well thou shynyng lady of the nyght.

The earliest known record of the 'prostitute' meaning is found in William Hicks' Wits Academy, 1677:

Come you Ladies of the Night That in silent sports delight.

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