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From Middle English fisicien, from Old French fisicïen (physician) (modern French physicien (physicist)), from fisique (art of healing), from Latin physica (natural science), from Ancient Greek φυσική ἐπιστήμη (phusikḗ epistḗmē, knowledge of nature), from φυσικός (phusikós, pertaining to nature). Displaced native Middle English læche, leche, archaic English leech (physician). Morphologically physic +‎ -ian.


  • IPA(key): /fɪˈzɪʃən/
  • Hyphenation: phy‧si‧cian
  • Audio (US):(file)



physician (plural physicians)

  1. A practitioner of physic, i.e. a specialist in internal medicine, especially as opposed to a surgeon; a practitioner who treats with medication rather than with surgery.
    • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter II, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      His forefathers had been, as a rule, professional men—physicians and lawyers; his grandfather died under the walls of Chapultepec Castle while twisting a tourniquet for a cursing dragoon; an uncle remained indefinitely at Malvern Hill; [].
    • 2010 August 4, Leonard S. Rubenstein, JD, Stephen N. Xenakis, MD, “The Ethics of Enhanced Interrogations and Torture: A Reappraisal of the Argument”, in JAMA[1], volume 304, number 5, American Medical Association, →DOI, pages 569–570:
      In 2009, the Obama Administration released guidelines on enhanced interrogation written in 2003 and 2004 by the CIA Office of Medical Services. (OMS).1-3(appendix F) The OMS guidelines, even in redacted form, and opinions from the US Department of Justice's (DOJ’s) Office of Legal Counsel show that CIA physicians, psychologists, and other health care personnel had important roles in enhanced interrogation.
  2. A medical doctor trained in human medicine.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:physician
    • 1881–1882, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, London, Paris: Cassell & Company, published 14 November 1883, →OCLC:
      The doctor had to go to London for a physician to take charge of his practice [].

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Derived terms