General English


  • noun a small hospital or a department in a large hospital which deals only with out-patients or which specialises in the treatment of particular medical conditions
  • noun a group of students under a doctor or surgeon who examine patients and discuss their treatment

Origin & History of “clinic”

Etymologically, a clinic is a place with ‘beds’. It comes ultimately from Greek klī́nē ‘bed’, which goes back to the Indo-European base *kli- ‘lean, slope’ (source also of English lean) and hence was originally ‘something on which one reclines’. The adjective derived from this, klīnkós, reached English via Latin clīnicus, having become specialized in meaning from ‘bed’ in general to ‘sick-bed’. Clinic was replaced as an adjective by clinical in the 18th century, but it continued on as a noun, originally in the sense ‘sick or bedridden person’. This survived into the 19th century (‘You are free to roam at large over the bodies of my clinics’, E Berdoe, St Bernard’s 1887), and the modern sense ‘hospital’ did not arrive until the late 19th century, borrowed from French clinique or German klinik.