c. 1200, pacience, "quality of being willing to bear adversities, calm endurance of misfortune, suffering, etc.," from Old French pacience "patience; sufferance, permission" (12c.) and directly from Latin patientia "the quality of suffering or enduring; submission," also "indulgence, leniency; humility; submissiveness; submission to lust;" literally "quality of suffering." It is an abstract noun formed from the adjective patientem (nominative patiens) "bearing, supporting; suffering, enduring, permitting; tolerant," but also "firm, unyielding, hard," used of persons as well as of navigable rivers, present participle of pati "to endure, undergo, experience," which is of uncertain origin.
Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue. [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]
Meaning "quiet or calmness in waiting for something to happen" is from late 14c. Meaning "constancy in labor or exertion" is attested from 1510s. Meaning "card game for one person" is from 1816.
"suffering, injured, or sick person under medical treatment," late 14c., from Old French pacient (n.), from the adjective, from Latin patientem "suffering" (see patience). In Middle English also of anyone who suffered patiently.
mid-14c., paciente, "capable of enduring misfortune, suffering, etc., without complaint," from Old French pacient and directly from Latin patientem "bearing, supporting, suffering, enduring, permitting" (see patience). From late 14c. as "slow to anger, self-restrained, having the temper which endures trials and provocations." From late 15c. as "awaiting or expecting an outcome calmly and without discontent." The meaning "pertaining to a medical patient" is late 14c., from the noun. Related: Patiently.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to suffer."
It forms all or part of: anthropopathy; antipathy; apathy; empathy; idiopathy; nepenthe; osteopathy; -path; pathetic; -pathic; patho-; pathogenic; pathognomonic; pathology; pathos; -pathy; psychopathic; sympathy.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek pathos "suffering, feeling, emotion, calamity," penthos "grief, sorrow;" Old Irish cessaim "I suffer;" Lithuanian kenčiu, kentėti "to suffer," pakanta "patience."
1580s, in the rhetorical sense ("a chain of reasoning in graduating steps from weaker to stronger"), from Late Latin climax (genitive climacis), from Greek klimax "propositions rising in effectiveness," literally "ladder," from suffixed form of PIE root *klei- "to lean."
Originally in rhetoric an arrangement of successive clauses so that the last important word of one is repeated as the first important word of the next, as in Romans v.3-5: "... but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed ...." Compare anadiplosis. From the rhetorical meaning, the word evolved through "series of steps by which a goal is achieved," to "escalating steps," to (1789) "high point of intensity or development," a usage credited by the OED to "popular ignorance."
The meaning "sexual orgasm" is recorded by 1880 (also in terms such as climax of orgasm), and is said to have been promoted from c. 1900 by birth-control pioneer Marie Stopes (1880-1958) and others as a more accessible word than orgasm (n.).