When you stay overnight at the hospital (in the UK, at hospital) for a period of time, for whatever reason, what do you call it?

A hospital stay?


6 Answers 6


Consider hospitalize ("to place in a hospital as a patient"). As in:

I was hospitalized for two days until the doctor discharged me.

  • 1
    Note: UK spelling yields hospitalise.
    – Zairja
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 19:52
  • If it were Oxford spelling would it still be hospitalise? Or hospitalize? Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 7:45
  • 1
    No, OUP prefers ize, but most of those in the UK who care about spelling don't follow them.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 12:28
  • In Old English there were over two dozen ways to spell the word "sister". So ize/ise seems trivial :-)
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 16:37

Other options

I received five days of inpatient care.

My convalescence, in hospital, lasted five days.

(echoing @coleopterist)

  • 1
    +1 for in-patient. It is used by hospital staff here in the UK, as distinct from out-patient, to indicate an overnight stay.
    – immutabl
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 22:49
  • 1
    Convalescence is a term that is usually used for a slow process that takes place after one's condition has been brought under control by some more intense treatment.
    – jsw29
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 20:46

A hospital "stay" is very common. In healthcare, we refer to the number of days that a person is in the hospital as the "length of stay."

Another antiquated term is "convalescence," though one could convalesce at home. This is the sort of terminology my grandmother would use when writing a letter -- talking about how she went to visit some friend who was convalescing at the hospital. This refers more to recovery than any other part of a hospital stay -- for example, if you are admitted for a surgery, and then are transferred to a recovery ward, your stay in recovery would be described as "convalescing".

The act of actually entering the hospital as an inpatient and starting your stay is "admitting" or "admission". The act of leaving the hospital is "discharge."

It's important to note that these terms as I've described them are specific to the US healthcare system. British English -- or other forms of Commonwealth English -- may have other terms or phrases to describe similar things. (I work in US healthcare, so I cannot make any assertions as to how the British may or may not refer to things.)


I'd call it hospitalisation. Well, actually, no. After the event I'd say I've been in hospital.

  • 1
    Barrie, could you also say "I've been in the hospital?" Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 18:52
  • 4
    Not in British English, unless we really wanted to emphasise a particular hispital. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 18:55
  • 6
    In British English, "I've been in hospital" means you were sick, and "I've been in the hospital" means you were in the building but probably not sick. If we had to distinguish these in American English, we might say "in the hospital" and "at the hospital". Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 19:00
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    @Joao: No. I was saying that the US "in the hospital" = UK "in hospital". While the US "at the hospital" = UK "in the hospital". So when you say "staying overnight at the hospital" it sounds to me like you're staying there, but not because you're sick (although one of your friends might be). Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 19:12
  • 2
    I don't think Peter Shor is incorrect, especially when encountering the phrases without context, but in my opinion (US), "I was in a car accident, so I am staying overnight at the hospital" is perfectly clear and unambiguous, and I would not find it even odd that one used "at" instead of "in."
    – horatio
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 19:21

The OP's choice of hospital stay appears to be widely in use.

There is also convalescence:

time spent recovering from an illness or medical treatment; recuperation:

a period of convalescence

As in the definition above, convalescence is more about the recovery than the stay itself. However, you can convalesce at hospitals and there are convalescent hospitals too.

  • Is "hospital stay" UK or US English? Or does it not matter. I like hospitalization though and I do have to agree with Carlos that convalescence maybe had at home. But I repped you in either case. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 18:58
  • 1
    "Hospital stay" works fine in US English. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 19:01

An alternative that specifies admittance into hospital

"I was admitted to hospital for X days"

  • That brings up another nominal: "Hospital admissions are up this year."
    – Merk
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 20:03
  • well it depends on how specific you want to be, you could be in hospital for 5 days on a death vigil, or overnight while your partner is giving birth but not be receiving treatment Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 20:09

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