The bustling thoroughfares, once brimming with buxom bachelorettes, have been becalmed—their wide streets and wending alleyways now empty of women, except for one. All those sporting an XY and half a soul can relate: For every gentleman lucky enough, there exists that special woman in his life who fills his heart with warmth, his ears with bells, and his eyes with her. Amongst all this wide-eyed optimism, however, a practical problem asserts itself upon that same gentleman. Now happily encumbered by love, he suddenly lacks the lexicon to describe the remaining fallen women extant upon creation, those sirens who serve mainly as the forgotten road-bumps on his way home to Penelope. For this, Yours Truly proffers a few solutions. It has been recommended by many a Wise One that to shoot high should be one’s first aim. And to this adage can none be gainsaid.
Courtesan struts into English by way of French, which did its pilfering from Italian. A courtesan provided distinguished services to courtiers, whence derives the word, and later to wealthy, famous, and otherwise powerful men of all sorts. Lower than an escort—whose arrangement is not wholly sexual and indeed could be entirely without—a courtesan is the highest of the Fallen, the Beatrice of wayward Bettys.
No one can sneer at a classic. Prostitute carries with it some strong connotations, the imagery of which be likely readily available to the imagination of the reader. Thus, girls, women, and hookers alike take offense in achieving it as their sobriquet. Harlot sounds cooler, but the work is the same. Harlot is an interpretably milder term for prostitute. It originally denoted a man who was a rogue or villain. Although its Latin origins give this word for professional skanks an air of learnedness, meretrix is a ho, no doubt. Therefore, one might opt for strumpet, trull, or tart, all of which are direct synonyms for the oldest profession. Due, however, to their very Elizabethan and generally British sound, they are deemed excusable, humorous, even taking on the linguistic impression of something closer to a baked good. One might venture even lighter fare, such as slattern or trollop, both of which can mean slut, but have more of a connotation towards an untidy, dirty, or wanton woman of known promiscuity, but not necessarily someone who sells her body to anyone rough enough to take a dip. And our most vulgar: whore.
Paramour: a lover or sexual partner who is illicit and often secret; a companion in adultery (not limited to women).
Concubine: Latin’s “con” (together) and “cubare” (to lie down/go to bed) join forces to describe a woman who makes love to a man to whom she is not married, otherwise known as a mistress.