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.
In the Code of Hammurabi, provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes.
According to Zohar and the Alphabet of Ben Sira, there were four angels of sacred prostitution, who mated with archangel Samael.
They were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes.
Some similarities have been found between the Greek hetaera, the Japanese oiran, and also the Indian tawaif.
The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country (sometimes from region to region within a given country), ranging from being permissible but unregulated, to an enforced or unenforced crime, or a regulated profession.
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.
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.
Female clients of prostitutes are sometimes referred to as janes or sugar mamas. For the sake of the longed alliance with imperialist democracies [Stalin] has brought the Comintern to the last stages of political prostitution." Besides targeting political figures, the term is used in relation to organizations and even small countries, which "have no choice but to sell themselves", because their voice in world affairs is insignificant.