First of all, English is my foreign language. I've never thought of this until the release of the film Dr. Strange the supreme sorcerer. My co-worker argued that Dr. means Doctor (as a job), while I translate it to Dr (as a title, like Master, bachelor, doctor).

I think Dr is, of course, short for Doctor, which can be both a title or a job. However, I'm not so sure if they have the same meaning (when using as a prefix).

The question is:

Does Dr. as a prefix could mean both as a job and a title or only one? If it has only one meaning, how do I distinguish those two? How do I know if it's being used as a job or as a title?

P/S: Also, does Dr. as a title has anything relate to those in {Master, Doctor, Bachelor}?

  • "Dr." is an abbreviation for "doctor", and either can be used in most situations. However, it is not idiomatic to say, eg, "Frank is a Dr. at Memorial Hospital", or "Joe is sick so I called the Dr.". Rather, "doctor" is generally spelled out in such cases, where the term is used not as a title but a position or trade. – Hot Licks Oct 26 '16 at 19:52

'Dr.' is simply an abbreviation for the title 'Doctor'. It can be used in any of its senses - medical doctor, recipient of doctorate degree, or whatever.

The only way to discover in which sense it is being used is from context, or by asking.

Dr. should not be used to abbreviate the word 'doctor' when it is not a title, though you might find it used like that in older writings.

  • 1
    (+1) Do note that, particularly in older uses, it is written with a D and a superscript r, often with a line/dot underneath. This is the traditional method of abbreviation, particularly in titles. The abbreviation 'Dr.' with a full stop is more modern. – BladorthinTheGrey Oct 26 '16 at 17:16
  • The only way to discover in which sense it is being used is from context, or by asking. So as in Dr. Strange, is that a profession or a degree? – Eddie Oct 27 '16 at 6:46
  • @Eddie We have a Science Fiction and Fantasy site that would be a good place to ask that. – DJClayworth Oct 27 '16 at 13:02
  • Nah, I could find out that the Dr. here referred to a profession. I just want to know if there is any other way to find out, or do we really have to ask for that? If I'd like to translate to my language, I should know what they're referring to, right? – Eddie Oct 27 '16 at 17:03
  • Nope, there is no general way to tell. It's a thing some people make use of by calling themselves "Dr." when they want to sound like a medical professional but really only have a doctoral degree. Dr. Phil would be a prime example. – DJClayworth Oct 27 '16 at 18:08

I think the confusion here comes from not knowing exactly how the term "doctor" works.

There are three types of ways the word "doctor" can be written, and two different circumstances/contexts they are used in.

First, there's "doctor" without a capital "D". Such as "He is a doctor" or "A crowd of doctors hustled into the room". This use of the word doctor is referring to a person of that profession. This would be more of what you would be thinking is referring to a job.

Secondly, there's "Doctor" with a capital and "Dr". These two ways of writing it mean the same thing; both of them are used when you are directly naming a specific doctor, instead of referring vaguely to a person in the profession. Such as "Doctor, what's wrong with me?" or "Doctor Scott is my favorite doctor!". Essentially, they're both used when you are calling someone "Doctor" instead of or before his or her name. The only difference between the two is that Dr. needs to be used before some sort of name (Dr. Scott), whereas Doctor can be used on its own. Doctor and Dr. would be more of what you would've been thinking is Title, or Name.

I hope this helps!


Normally, one would use the title and the job differently. How the word is used is key.

(Am E) Title:

I am going to see Dr. Smith this afternoon.

(Br E) Title (note no period after the abbreviation):

I am going to see Dr Smith this afternoon.


I am going to see the doctor this afternoon.

However, when texting or in other less formal contexts, one may write:

U going to the dr this afternoon?

Yes, the Dr. title is related to an academic degree. Someone with a Doctorate in, say, Statistics could be addressed with the title Dr. Error.

Perhaps the most confusing in a medical situation would be a nurse with a doctorate of science in nursing (a DSN). Yes, you could address her with her title as "Doctor Spock," but you would not say that she is your doctor.

  • In Britain people working in hospitals and with patients, who have doctoral degrees in fields other than medicine, do not normally use the title Dr in their professional work. Though they can append the letters PhD after their names. Senior Consultants (specialists) do not use Dr anyway. They revert to Mr, Mrs or Ms. – WS2 Oct 26 '16 at 17:23
  • Yes, the same happens in AmE. The example I gave for the nurse extends to other disciplines; I know people with doctorates in bioengineering and physical therapy who use the title: "Mr." It seems that it's mostly the academics that like to retain the "Dr." title. – rajah9 Oct 26 '16 at 20:24

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