General English

  • noun a person whose job is to look after people who are ill


  • noun a specialist who examines people when they are sick to see how they can be made well


  • noun a person who has trained in medicine and is qualified to examine people when they are ill to find out what is wrong with them and to prescribe a course of treatment
  • noun a title given to a qualified person who is registered with the General Medical Council
  • abbreviationDr

Origin & History of “doctor”

Doctor, doctrine, and document all go back ultimately to the Latin verb docēre ‘teach’. this in turn was a descendant of an Indo-European base *dok-, *dek- which also produced Greek dokein ‘seem, think’ (source of English dogma (17th c.), orthodox, and paradox) and didáskein ‘learn’ (source of English didactic (17th c.)) and Latin decere ‘be fitting or suitable’ (source of English decent, decorate, and dignity) and dexter (source of English dextrous). Latin doctor was derived from doctus, the past participle of docēre, and came into English via Old French doctour. It originally meant ‘teacher’, and the main modern sense of ‘medical practitioner’, although sporadically recorded in middle English, did not become firmly established until the late 16th century. Latin doctrīna ‘teaching, learning’, a derivative of Latin doctor, produced English doctrine (14th c.). Latin documentum, which came directly from docēre, originally meant ‘lesson’, but in medieval Latin its signification had passed through ‘written instruction’ to ‘official paper’. English acquired it as document (15th c.). The derivative documentary is 19th-century.