So, how did people come to think that doctor equals physician? One can guess that this popular misusage resulted from the amount of contact "ordinary" people have had with someone having "Doctor" as their title: people have been more likely to meet a physician during their lifetimes than someone, say, with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. People in the media, in ignorance or purposefully, perpetuate this misusage. So do many physicians and, even, non-M.D. people having earned Ph.D.s or other doctorates. Legitimate dictionaries list multiple "definitions" of doctor. But beside original definitions, legitimate dictionaries also commonly include misusages of words as they come into fashion and stay a while.
We're not sure why the U.S. medical school diploma was titled "Doctor of Medicine" rather than "Physician" or "Practitioner of Medicine," however, a possibility: a long-ago application of the word, "teacher," was in addressing persons held in high regard in their vocations, therefore, the regard presumed of persons gaining the physician's diploma. One example of the regard application of "teacher" can be found in a Christian bible's new testament, wherein Jesus is occasionally referred to as "teacher." The use of "doctor" is obvious in the Latin-language bible version, corresponding to "teacher" in English translations. One English translation, however, uses "master" instead of "teacher."
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