Viral posts falsely claim 'hospital' is an acronym — here's where the word actually comes from

Viral social media posts are claiming that the word 'hospital' has a deeper meaning, according to a July 14 USA Today report.

The posts claim the word stands for "House Of Sick People Including Treatment And Labor."

The word actually has Latin roots.

"The word hospital is borrowed into English from French around 1300," said Anne Curzan, PhD, dean of literature, science and the arts at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The word is derived from the Latin words hospitale, which means lodging, and hospes, which means guest. The word is etymologically connected to the words hostel, hotel, hospital and host. Hospital got a French twist before being adopted by the English language, according to Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries.

There are conflicting accounts of when the word first emerged. Merriam-Webster said it emerged in the 14th century.The Etymology Dictionary said it was first recorded in the 1540s to describe an institution for sick and wounded people.

"As a general rule, I recommend being duly suspicious of clever acronym-based explanations for the origins of English words," Dr. Curzan told USA Today. "Occasionally they are true, e.g., snafu, but often they are not."

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