1570s, "come side-by-side or face-to-face with," for any reason, from French accoster "move up to, come alongside" (Old French acoster), from Late Latin accostare "come up to the side," from assimilated form of Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + costa "a rib, side" (see coast (n.)). Now usually in the sense "approach and speak to" (1610s). Also picked up as the verb for a prostitute's solicitation of a customer (1812). Related: Accosted; accosting.
Infamous houses, he states, are in all parts of the metropolis, but most numerous in small streets, leading from public thoroughfares. "Some of them adjoin churches, chapels, and even the courts of law. There is one locality in which vicious women accost persons as they issue from the door of a chapel on the Sabbath. In another situation, the officiating clergyman while in the pulpit, is in a position to witness the proceedings in a contiguous brothel." [Michael Ryan, M.D., "Prostitution in London," 1839]