The word “hospital” is an acronym for “house of sick people including treatment and labour.”
On December 17 2018, a Facebook page shared the following meme purporting to reveal the surprising etymology of the word “hospital”:
With a nod to the “today years old” meme, it read:
How old were you when you realised that HOSPITAL means House Of Sick People Including Treatment and Labour.
Fun (but often unreliable) assertions about the purported etymology of popular words are known movers and shakers on social media, often guaranteed to rake in likes, shares, and comment engagement. Frequently, the claims constituted a backronym, which is a back-formed word construction purporting to be a legitimate acronym. Although many are purely humorous in intent, others fall into the category of folk etymology or falsehoods.
While the word “hospital” was in wide use in 2016, social media discussions of its etymology made