Due diligence: I have Googled the word "surgery," and I have reviewed a couple of dozen past questions on this site related to the word "surgery." I have not found a satisfactory answer to the question which follows.

I hail from the United States. I recently had occasion to consult the website of the British Parliament. I noticed that in the sections for individual members the word "surgery" would often occur along with a listing of days and times. Internal evidence suggested that I should interpret "surgery" to mean "office hours" -- i.e., when a person could expect to find the M.P. in the office.

First of all, is my conception correct?

If so, how did "surgery" come to have this non-medical connotation?

Thanks to all who have offered, or will offer, answers.

  • 4
    I always assumed it was because you go along and tell them your problems, analogous to going to the doctors. Commented May 11, 2016 at 18:54
  • 2
    This question may be of interest.
    – WS2
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 19:05
  • 2
    @MartinSmith "MP, it hurts when I do this." "Well don't do that!"
    – user126158
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 23:51

1 Answer 1


The term surgery has been adopted outside clinical contexts by analogy in meaning:

  • (Britain) Any arrangement where people arrive and wait for an interview with certain people, similar to a doctor's surgery.

    • Our MP will be holding a surgery in the village hall on Tuesday.'

Surgery (politics):

  • A political surgery (in British politics) or clinic is a series of one-to-one meetings that a Member of Parliament (MP) may have with his or her constituents, at which a constituent may raise issues of local concern. The issues may relate to local issues (street crime, litter, a request for intervention by the MP on behalf of the constituent with local or national government) or it could deal with national policy matters.

(The Free Dictionary)

The expression political surgery appears to be from the early 19th century according to Google books.


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