When watching medical television shows, I often hear the doctors (actors) using the term "stat", which I understand to mean "do [action] quickly/immediately". Where did this term originate, and where is it derived from?
According to the OED, stat in this sense originated in pharmacology. The word stat would be written on a prescription to mean "immediately". The OED gives two citations for this:
- 1875 — W. H. Griffiths Lessons on Prescriptions iv. 18: "Stat., immediately."
- 1971 — Lancet 25 Sept. 700/2: "Stat., to be given at once."
The word stat is an abbreviation of the Latin word statim, which has the meaning "instantly/immediately".
This usage was then generalized beyond the domain of prescriptions to refer to any action that needed to be taken immediately.