Week ninety-three: FRANION (probability 5480), by David Sutton

FRANION is a Spenserian word for an illicit lover or loose woman. It is one of the many old words for what are euphemistically known as ladies of the night. Others include CYPRIAN, deriving from Kypros (Cyprus), the birthplace of Aphrodite (also called Cypris), the goddess of love and beauty. In similar vein we have PAPHIAN, relating to Paphos in Cyprus, the birthplace of Aphrodite, which capitalised means an inhabitant of Paphos but in lower case means a whore; visitors to Cyprus should be careful about the distinction.

Other terms include DOXY or DOXIE, COCOTTE, HARLOT, TRULL, TROLLOP, STRUMPET, ROUNDHEEL, DEMIREP, DRAB, HETAERA or HETAIRA and COURTESAN or COURTEZAN, quite apart from more modern terms like PROSSIE, PROSTIE, HOOKER, STREETWALKER and SHIPPIE (this last being a New Zealand word for a prostitute who specialises in soliciting at ports). But should one of these ladies give up the day job, or should I say the night job, she may be known as a MAGDALEN or MAGDALENE, a reformed prostitute; CONVERTITE can carry the same meaning though it can also mean simply a (religious) convert, seemingly another opportunity for a slightly embarrassing confusion.

Finally let us given a honourable mention to the DEMIVIERGE, a woman who engages in promiscuous sexual activity but retains her virginity. This sounds a little frustrating for the punters, but what would I know?


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