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The word Nurse

The word Nurse, has an early origin. As of late Middle English (a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest on 1066, until the late 15th century), it was nourice (that was a derivation from old French, about that time), or nutricia (from Late Latin and feminine for nutricius), which effectively refers to ‘a person who nourishes’.

Nurse, as it were for the verb, was derived from them. The noun has remained the same, too.
The word, therefore, enjoys a wide reference, especially used as a verb. One definition of the word (verb) says: “To tend, as an infant, or a sick person: to bring up: to manage with care and economy.”

Traditionally, the noun for the word does refer to a “woman who nourishes an infant: a mother, while her infant is at the breast: one who has the care of infants or of the sick.” In an extension of it to horticulture, it could also be referred to “a shrub or tree which protects a young plant.” That, probably, was the origin of ‘nursery’, as referred to the process of tendering to seeds just before and after they germinate. Then you have the term wet-nurse. That would refer to a woman who suckles the infant of another.

Basically, while the nursing as a profession came much later, the concept of nursing or that of the importance of a nurse in varied situations was an early acceptance into vocabularies and practice.


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