Difference Wiki

Patient vs. Patience: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 10, 2023
Patient refers to a person receiving medical care, while patience denotes the ability to endure delay or annoyance without becoming agitated.

Key Differences

"Patient" primarily denotes an individual undergoing medical treatment or healthcare services. Conversely, "patience" is the enduring of irritation, delay, or trouble without becoming visibly or verbally annoyed or upset. Though these words sound similar, they differ in application, with "patient" referring to a role or identity and "patience" illustrating a behavioral trait.
A patient is generally found in a healthcare setting, interacting with healthcare providers. On the other hand, patience is found in various contexts, not limited to any specific environment or interaction. These words, while phonetically similar, anchor themselves in divergent realms of understanding and use.
The word "patient" can be employed as a noun or adjective and is connected to themes of medical care and wellbeing. In contrast, "patience" operates strictly as a noun, embodying the notion of tolerating delays, obstructions, or frustration with a calm demeanor. The primary distinction pivots on the conceptual versus practical application of each term.
You may encounter a patient in hospitals, clinics, or other medical facilities, signifying a person in need of medical attention. Alternatively, patience manifests universally, applicable to varied scenarios whether pertaining to waiting for a bus to arrive or tolerating a problematic situation. “Patient” assigns a title to an individual, whereas “patience” describes an intangible quality.
“Patient” directly implicates involvement in a medical or healthcare context, referring specifically to an individual under care or treatment. In divergence, “patience” extrapolates a mental and emotional capacity, representing a universal, context-free trait that may be displayed by any individual, including a patient, in suitable circumstances.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Can be both noun and adjective.
Always a noun.


Refers to an individual under medical care.
Denotes the ability to bear annoyances or delays calmly.

Usage Context

Primarily medical and healthcare settings.
Universal, applicable to various contexts and situations.


Inmate, subject, case (in a medical context).
Tolerance, forbearance, endurance.

Example Sentence

The patient waited quietly in the room.
Her patience was tested during the lengthy delay.

Patient and Patience Definitions


A patient is an individual who is under medical care or treatment.
The doctor assured the patient that the procedure would be painless.


In a broader sense, patience can describe the sustained perseverance during challenges.
Her patience during the long recovery process after surgery was commendable.


"Patient", when used as an adjective, means showing self-control and calmness, especially during a delay or challenging situation.
The teacher was patient with the enthusiastic but disruptive student.


Patience is a willingness to tolerate discomfort or distress without complaint.
His patience through the pain was admirable and inspired others.


As a noun, "patient" may also imply a client of a professional, not strictly limited to healthcare.
As a lawyer, listening intently to your patient’s concerns is crucial.


Patience refers to the ability to endure delays or setbacks without becoming agitated.
Her patience was evident as she calmly waited for the delayed flight.


A patient might specifically refer to someone hospitalized under intensive care.
The critical condition of the patient required immediate surgical intervention.


Patience also indicates a person’s capacity to remain calm and not to hurry.
With patience, she quietly observed the wildlife without disturbing them.


In the context of clinical studies, a patient is an individual subjected to examination or treatment.
The clinical trial aimed to explore alternative therapies for patients experiencing chronic pain.


Additionally, patience implies restraint in reacting to the behavior of others.
Despite the child's incessant questions, the scientist answered each one with patience.


Bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness
Tried to remain patient when the airline announced the flight was delayed.


The capacity, quality, or fact of being patient
"The task of mastering ancient languages ... takes years of study, and persistence, and patience" (Cullen Murphy).


Marked by or exhibiting calm endurance of pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance
Responded to the accusations with a patient smile.


Can “patience” refer to a person?

No, “patience” describes a characteristic, not a person.

Is “patient” a noun or an adjective?

Patient” can be both a noun and an adjective.

Is patience always regarded as a positive trait?

Generally, yes, but excessive patience may be viewed differently depending on context.

Can an animal be described as a patient?

Yes, animals under veterinary care are often referred to as patients.

Can "patience" be used as a verb?

No, "patience" is a noun and does not have a verb form.

Can a patient’s status vary?

Yes, a patient can be categorized based on the level of urgency, like outpatient or inpatient.

Is patience only relevant in the context of waiting?

No, patience can relate to enduring any sort of difficulty or annoyance without complaint.

Is "patience" tangible?

No, patience is an intangible quality or virtue.

Can patience be quantified?

Not in a strict numerical sense, but descriptions like “great patience” or “little patience” are common.

Is the term "patient" exclusively used in medical contexts?

Predominantly yes, but it can also refer to clients in other professional contexts.

Can a scenario or situation depict patience?

Yes, situations can be described as requiring or demonstrating patience.

Can patience have physical manifestations?

Indirectly, through calm, unbothered demeanor or persistent effort despite challenges.

Can a patient exhibit patience?

Absolutely, a patient can show patience during treatment or while waiting.

Can "patient" be used metaphorically?

Yes, “patient” might be used metaphorically, such as referring to objects waiting to be acted upon.

Can an institution be referred to as a patient?

Uncommonly, but metaphorically or in specific jargons, it might be possible.

Does “patient” always refer to human beings?

No, “patient” may refer to animals in a veterinary context.

Is patience synonymous with forbearance?

Yes, patience and forbearance can be used synonymously in many contexts.

Can “patient” imply enduring suffering?

As an adjective, yes, e.g., “The patient animal waited for relief.”

Can you be a patient without being sick?

Yes, a patient can seek medical advice or check-ups without being ill.

Can "patient" refer to a state of waiting?

Not typically. “Patient” primarily denotes a person or role, not a state.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons