1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Disorderly House

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[ 313 ] DISORDERLY HOUSE, in law, a house in which the conduct of its inmates is such as to become a public nuisance, or a house where persons congregate to the probable disturbance of the public peace or other commission of crime. In England, by the Disorderly Houses Act 1751, the term includes common bawdy houses or brothels,[1] common gaming houses, common betting houses and disorderly places of entertainment. The keeping of such is a misdemeanour punishable by fine or imprisonment, and in the case of a brothel also punishable on summary conviction by the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885; the letting out for gain for indiscriminate prostitution of a room or rooms in a house will make it as much a brothel in law as if the whole house were let out for the purpose. Where, however, a woman occupies a house or room which is frequented by men for the purpose of committing fornication with her, she cannot be convicted of keeping a disorderly house. See also Prostitution.

1^ The etymology of this word has been confused by the early adoption into English usage of the O. Fr. bordel. The two words are in origin quite distinct. Brothel is an O. Eng. word for a person, not a place. It meant an abandoned vagabond, one who had gone to ruin (abréothan). Bordel, on the contrary, is a place, literally a small hut or shelter, especially for fornication, Med. Lat. bordellum, diminutive of the Late Lat. borda, board. The words were early confused, and brothel-house, bordel-house, bordel or brothel, are all used for a disorderly house, while bordel was similarly misused, and, like brothel in its proper meaning, was applied to a disorderly person.