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[dok-ter] /ˈdɒk tər/
a person licensed to practice medicine, as a physician, surgeon, dentist, or veterinarian.
a person who has been awarded a doctor's degree:
He is a Doctor of Philosophy.
Older Slang. a cook, as at a camp or on a ship.
Machinery. any of various minor mechanical devices, especially one designed to remedy an undesirable characteristic of an automatic process.
Angling. any of several artificial flies, especially the silver doctor.
an eminent scholar and teacher.
verb (used with object)
to give medical treatment to; act as a physician to:
He feels he can doctor himself for just a common cold.
to treat (an ailment); apply remedies to:
He doctored his cold at home.
to restore to original or working condition; repair; mend:
She was able to doctor the chipped vase with a little plastic cement.
to tamper with; falsify:
He doctored the birthdate on his passport.
to add a foreign substance to; adulterate:
Someone had doctored the drink.
to revise, alter, or adapt (a photograph, manuscript, etc.) in order to serve a specific purpose or to improve the material:
to doctor a play.
to award a doctorate to:
He did his undergraduate work in the U.S. and was doctored at Oxford.
verb (used without object)
to practice medicine.
Older Use. to take medicine; receive medical treatment.
Metallurgy. (of an article being electroplated) to receive plating unevenly.
Origin of doctor
1275-1325; Middle English docto(u)r (< Anglo-French) < Latin, equivalent to doc(ēre) to teach + -tor -tor
Related forms
doctoral, doctorial
[dok-tawr-ee-uh l, -tohr-] /dɒkˈtɔr i əl, -ˈtoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
doctorally, doctorially, adverb
doctorless, adjective
doctorship, noun
subdoctor, noun
superdoctor, noun
underdoctor, noun
undoctored, adjective
Can be confused
doctor, physician. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for doctor
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Should there be lacerations, the doctor will attend to their repair when he comes.

    The Mother and Her Child William S. Sadler
  • What even denied a cordial at his end, Banished the doctor, and expelled the friend?

    Essay on Man Alexander Pope
  • You know what doctor Jackson said about the little stomachs that were overworked.

    The Right Knock Helen Van-Anderson
  • But the doctor stopped and spoke very gravely to Uncle Denny.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • "Suck it," ordered the doctor, surveying the splinter with an experienced eye.

    Little Men Louisa May Alcott
British Dictionary definitions for doctor


a person licensed to practise medicine
a person who has been awarded a higher academic degree in any field of knowledge
(mainly US & Canadian) a person licensed to practise dentistry or veterinary medicine
(often capital) Also called Doctor of the Church. a title given to any of several of the leading Fathers or theologians in the history of the Christian Church down to the late Middle Ages whose teachings have greatly influenced orthodox Christian thought
(angling) any of various gaudy artificial flies
(informal) a person who mends or repairs things
(slang) a cook on a ship or at a camp
(archaic) a man, esp a teacher, of learning
a device used for local repair of electroplated surfaces, consisting of an anode of the plating material embedded in an absorbent material containing the solution
(in a paper-making machine) a blade that is set to scrape the roller in order to regulate the thickness of pulp or ink on it
a cool sea breeze blowing in some countries: the Cape doctor
(Austral, slang) go for the doctor, to make a great effort or move very fast, esp in a horse race
what the doctor ordered, something needed or desired
  1. to give medical treatment to
  2. to prescribe for (a disease or disorder)
(intransitive) (informal) to practise medicine: he doctored in Easter Island for six years
(transitive) to repair or mend, esp in a makeshift manner
(transitive) to make different in order to deceive, tamper with, falsify, or adulterate
(transitive) to adapt for a desired end, effect, etc
(transitive) to castrate (a cat, dog, etc)
Derived Forms
doctoral, doctorial (dɒkˈtɔːrɪəl) adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Latin: teacher, from docēre to teach
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for doctor

c.1300, "Church father," from Old French doctour, from Medieval Latin doctor "religious teacher, adviser, scholar," in classical Latin "teacher," agent noun from docere "to show, teach, cause to know," originally "make to appear right," causative of decere "be seemly, fitting" (see decent). Meaning "holder of highest degree in university" is first found late 14c.; as is that of "medical professional" (replacing native leech (n.2)), though this was not common till late 16c. The transitional stage is exemplified in Chaucer's Doctor of phesike (Latin physica came to be used extensively in Medieval Latin for medicina).

Similar usage of the equivalent of doctor is colloquial in most European languages: cf. Italian dottore, French docteur, German doktor, Lithuanian daktaras, though these are typically not the main word in those languages for a medical healer. For similar evolution, cf. Sanskrit vaidya- "medical doctor," literally "one versed in science." German Arzt, Dutch arts are from Late Latin archiater, from Greek arkhiatros "chief healer," hence "court physician." French médecin is a back-formation from médicine, replacing Old French miege, from Latin medicus.


1590s, "to confer a degree on," from doctor (n.). Meaning "to treat medically" is from 1712; sense of "alter, disguise, falsify" is from 1774. Related: Doctored; doctoring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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doctor in Medicine

doctor doc·tor (dŏk'tər)

  1. A person, especially a physician, dentist, or veterinarian, trained in the healing arts and licensed to practice.

  2. A person who has earned the highest academic degree awarded by a university in a specified discipline.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for doctor



A person who drugs racehorses to improve their performance (1940s+ Horse racing)


  1. To alter or tamper with something dishonestly; cook: We doctored the receipts/ He doctored the booze (1774+)
  2. To repair; mend: Somebody's got to doctor this furnace (1828+)

Related Terms

couch doctor, play doctor, spin doctor, zit doctor

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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doctor in the Bible

(Luke 2:46; 5:17; Acts 5:34), a teacher. The Jewish doctors taught and disputed in synagogues, or wherever they could find an audience. Their disciples were allowed to propose to them questions. They assumed the office without any appointment to it. The doctors of the law were principally of the sect of the Pharisees. Schools were established after the destruction of Jerusalem at Babylon and Tiberias, in which academical degrees were conferred on those who passed a certain examination. Those of the school of Tiberias were called by the title "rabbi," and those of Babylon by that of "master."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with doctor
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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