Date: Wed, 21 Jun 1995 13:20:32 +0200

From: Jenny Becker beckerj[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]OMRI.CZ

Subject: Re: nurse / "sister"

Does anyone have a comment on the use of "sister" for "nurse"? My Czexh

colleague just asked me if they are the same in English.

I remember that in Indonesia, "suster" is also used; would this be

a borrowing from the Dutch? Is "sister" used for "nurse" in other

Germanic and / or Slavic languages?

Finally, does "sister" for "nurse" derive from Catholic nuns who

often serve as nurses throughout the world? Or does the meaning

come from the biological "sister," or someone who is close to

you, supportive, nurturing, etc?

Thanks for your ideas. Chris Brooks / Kuwait

In German, the word for nurse is also sister - Schwester or

Krankenschwester (which is interesting, as krank means sick, while the

Czechs place the emphasis on health). I don't know about the origin of the

use of sister, but I would guess that the nun connection is correct. In the

middle ages, the vast majority of hospitals in Europe were run by religious


Jenny Becker