from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A member of a military religious order founded among European crusaders in 12th-century Jerusalem to care for sick and needy pilgrims.
- n. A member of any of several religious orders dedicated to the care of sick or needy persons.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. One residing in a hospital, for the purpose of receiving the poor, the sick, and strangers.
- n. One of an order of knights who built a hospital at Jerusalem for pilgrims, A. D. 1042. They were called Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and after the removal of the order to Malta, Knights of Malta.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. One devoted to the care of the sick or the needy in a hospital or hospitals; specifically, a member of one of the medieval communities of laymen, monks, knights, etc., who bound themselves to observe certain monastic rules, generally the rule of Augustine, and to devote themselves to the care of the poor and the sick in hospitals.
Middle English Hospiteler, from Old French hospitalier, from Medieval Latin hospitālārius, giver of hospitality, from hospitāle, hospice; see hospital.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)