c. 1200, "come to (a person) to comfort or benefit," from Old French visiter "to visit; inspect, examine; afflict" (12c.) and directly from Latin visitare "to go to see, come to inspect," frequentative of visere "behold, visit" (a person or place), from past participle stem of videre "to see, notice, observe" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Originally of the deity, later of pastors and doctors (c. 1300), general sense of "pay a call" is from mid-13c. Meaning "come upon, afflict" (in reference to sickness, punishment, etc.) is recorded in English from mid-14c. Related: Visited; visiting.
1620s, "friendly or formal call upon someone," from visit (v.) and from French visite (n.). From 1800 as "short or temporary trip to some place." With pay (v.) since 1650s.