General English


  • A building or institution in which 24-hour medical care and services are available and provided.


  • noun a place where sick or injured people are looked after


  • noun an establishment which provides surgery, medical treatment and nursing to ill and injured people

Origin & History of “hospital”

like hospices, hostels, and hotels, hospitals were originally simply places at which guests were received. The word comes via Old French hospital from medieval Latin hospitāle, a noun use of the adjective hospitālis ‘of a guest’. this in turn was derived from hospit-. the stem of Latin hospes ‘guest, host’. In English, hospital began its semantic shift in the 15th century, being used for a ‘home for the elderly or infirm, or for down-and-outs’; and the modern sense ‘place where the sick are treated’ first appeared in the 16th century. The original notion of ‘receiving guests’ survives, of course, in hospitality (14th c.) and hospitable (16th c.).

Hospice (19th c.) comes via French from Latin hospitium ‘hospitality’, another derivative of hospes.