Medical Definition of Hotel-Dieu

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Hotel-Dieu: A name often given to a hospital in France during the Middle Ages. Hotel-Dieu literally means the hotel (of) God. In Paris, the Hôtel-Dieu is a venerable and famed hospital.

A hospital can also be a place to take care of inanimate objects and serve as a "repair shop for specified small objects" such as, for example, a clock hospital.

The word "hospital" has a remarkable history. It comes from the Latin "hospes" which refers to either a visitor or the host who receives the visitor. (In French, the "hote" also means both the guest and the host). From "hospes" came the Latin "hospitalia", an apartment for strangers or guests, and the medieval Latin "hospitale" and the Old French "hospital." It crossed the Channel in the 14th century and in England began a semantic shift in the 15th century to mean a home for the elderly or infirm or a home for the down-and-out. The word only took on its modern meaning as "an institution where sick or injured are given medical or surgical care" in the 16th century. Many other words are related to hospital (and hotel) including hospice, hospitality, hospitable, host, hostel, etc.

Reviewed on 10/30/2018

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