1. a person licensed to practice medicine, as a physician, surgeon, dentist, or veterinarian.
  2. a person who has been awarded a doctor’s degree: He is a Doctor of Philosophy.
  3. Doctor of the Church.
  4. Older Slang. a cook, as at a camp or on a ship.
  5. Machinery. any of various minor mechanical devices, especially one designed to remedy an undesirable characteristic of an automatic process.
  6. Angling. any of several artificial flies, especially the silver doctor.
  7. an eminent scholar and teacher.

verb (used with object)

  1. to give medical treatment to; act as a physician to: He feels he can doctor himself for just a common cold.
  2. to treat (an ailment); apply remedies to: He doctored his cold at home.
  3. to restore to original or working condition; repair; mend: She was able to doctor the chipped vase with a little plastic cement.
  4. to tamper with; falsify: He doctored the birthdate on his passport.
  5. to add a foreign substance to; adulterate: Someone had doctored the drink.
  6. 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.
  7. to award a doctorate to: He did his undergraduate work in the U.S. and was doctored at Oxford.

verb (used without object)

  1. to practice medicine.
  2. Older Use. to take medicine; receive medical treatment.
  3. Metallurgy. (of an article being electroplated) to receive plating unevenly.


  1. a person licensed to practise medicine
  2. a person who has been awarded a higher academic degree in any field of knowledge
  3. mainly US and Canadian a person licensed to practise dentistry or veterinary medicine
  4. Also called: Doctor of the Church (often capital) 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
  5. angling any of various gaudy artificial flies
  6. informal a person who mends or repairs things
  7. slang a cook on a ship or at a camp
  8. archaic a man, esp a teacher, of learning
  9. 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
  10. (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
  11. a cool sea breeze blowing in some countriesthe Cape doctor
  12. go for the doctor Australian slang to make a great effort or move very fast, esp in a horse race
  13. what the doctor ordered something needed or desired


  1. (tr)
    1. to give medical treatment to
    2. to prescribe for (a disease or disorder)
  2. (intr) informal to practise medicinehe doctored in Easter Island for six years
  3. (tr) to repair or mend, esp in a makeshift manner
  4. (tr) to make different in order to deceive, tamper with, falsify, or adulterate
  5. (tr) to adapt for a desired end, effect, etc
  6. (tr) to castrate (a cat, dog, etc)

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.


  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.

see just what the doctor ordered.

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