If a doctor loses his license to practice is there an equivalent word to disbarred?

For example:

That lawyer was disbarred
The doctor was (medically disbarred).

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    Doctors don't have a bar to be dismissed from. In the US the doctor's license to practise is revoked. In the UK I believe the doctor is "struck off the register" Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 19:16
  • 1
    @StoneyB: Indeed. But doctors being struck off is something of a hypothetical situation in the UK. The BMA is an incredibly powerful "behind-the-scenes" organisation, and they virtually never let one of their own be publically called to account. Even today, their chief negotiator admits to being taken aback when he went into the first "negotiating rounds" with Gordon Brown a few years back. Instead of negotiating at all, Brown just conceded all of their insanely unjustified demands (that they'd expected to be negotiated down from). Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 20:24
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    @FumbleFingers It's true in practically all professions everywhere. The Pope is currently making headlines for actually defrocking!! pederastic priests. Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 20:42
  • @FumbleFingers Is it not the GMC who do the striking-off? I can think of two doctors off the top of my head who have been struck off - Harold Shipman and Andrew Wakefield.
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 23:05
  • It appears that "disbarred" is chiefly BrE/Australia. I admire phenry's find, but it is not common at all. Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 23:11

5 Answers 5


Medical doctors can have their license to practice medicine revoked. I see the word "delicensed" being used here and there, although, interestingly, "disbarred" seems to be more popular:

Disbarred L.I. Doctor Is Charged in Firebombing
Disbarred Doctor Loses His Appeal In Ontario Court
He apparently did not fight disbarment, the council said.
  • I think what we have here is a reversion (by folk-etymology, to be sure, which for once gets it right!) of disbar from its new sense (which I suspect began as a learned pun) to its origin as just a Latinate variant of debar. Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 20:58

The equivalent of

That lawyer was disbarred.

for doctors would be

The doctor's license was revoked.

Perhaps you can say:

The doctor was delicensed.

But that seems much more awkward.

  • 1
    And priests are "defrocked". Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 1:02
  • And bad geese are deflocked.
    – bib
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 1:54
  • Bad citizens are disarmed.
    – user63230
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 2:42

Struck off has been a long been used, as in "struck off the (medical) register".

Unregistered is also sometimes used, but probably the better word is deregistered.

  • I don't know about elsewhere, but "struck off (the (medical) register)" is the phrase routinely used in news reports in the UK.
    – Pitarou
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 23:12
  • I think that doctors do actually require a practice licence in the UK, but it's not something the general public ever hear of, so the phrase about licences which several correspondents reply as the ordinary and obvious one, is unknown in the UK.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 1:04
  • FWIW, I have never heard this term in the US. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 23:43

The US Department of Justice (in 2013) uses the word disbarred for expelled from the Bar. disbarred.

These practitioners were expelled from practice prior to January 13, 2012. The term expelled has been replaced by the term disbarred, which has the same meaning and effect. - justice.gov.

Physicians simply say, he/she lost his/her license, or, more formally, his license was revoked.

Disbarred refers to the Bar Association, an organization of lawyers established to promote professional competence, enforce standards of ethical conduct, and encourage a spirit of public service among members of the legal profession.

In Medicine, various Boards and one Association function in that way. It is common to say a doctor was unboarded or lost his Board certification, but it is not the equivalent of losing one's license, which is worse. An unboarded doctor can still practice medicine; an unlicensed one can not.

Edited to correct an error. My apologies to all.


In the medical community, you can also be stripped of your license.

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