Everyone else has customers or, slightly pompously, even snobbishly, clients. But the medical professions have patients. When I visit my doctor, I go out of my way to refer to myself as a customer. Everyone winces a little, but I think it does no harm to remind them...
There is a sort of suggestion that 'we professionals are far above trade'; there is some altruistic motive to our occupation that puts us higher than 'work' or even money. It's nonsense of course.
I see that the 'happy to wait' meaning is directly connected to the 'customer' meaning through the Latin origin meaning 'suffering'.
Does anyone have alternative suggestions for why doctors have patients?
As a footnote to this, I just asked my partner the question and she suggested that we are called patients because we have to wait so long after the appointed hour to get service. Perhaps she has a point.
Use this forum to suggest Good Words for Professor Beard.
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