Question from English4.today member Anna in Germany:
“Why is a medical ‘patient‘ called a ‘patient‘ and what does it have to do with the adjective ‘patient‘ ?”
Hi, Anna. That’s a really interesting question! What I love about questions from our members is that they often bring up English language topics that, as a native speaker, you haven’t thought about yourself.
Let’s have a look at the word patient as a noun and as an adjective:
- NOUN: He is a patient of Doctor Buller.
- ADJECTIVE: I have had to wait for an hour. I think I am very patient.
Anna, the word ‘patient‘ comes from the Latin originally. In Latin the word patiens is the present participle of pati (to suffer or endure) – so you can see immediately how the modern English word ‘patient‘, someone suffering from an illness or injury and being cared for by a medical professional, gets its meaning.
When ‘patient‘ is used as an adjective, as in ‘he is a very patient man‘, it means that he can endure or suffer a long wait until something is resolved.
You can see that the connection between patient as a noun, as in a doctor’s patient, and patient as an adjective can both be traced back to the same Latin root patiens, meaning to suffer or endure.
I hope that has helped clear it up for you, Anna.
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