Doctor means teacher in Latin. The word is originally an agentive noun of the verb docēre 'to teach'. It has been used continuously as an honored academic title for over a millennium in Europe, where it dates back to the rise of the university. This use spread to the Americas, former European colonies, and is now prevalent in most of the world. As a prefix - abbreviated "Dr" - its primary designation is a person who has obtained a doctorate (that is, a doctoral degree), which is the highest rank of academic degree awardable. Doctoral degrees may be "research doctorates", awarded on the basis of competency in research, or "taught doctorates" (also called "professional doctorates", because they are invariably awarded in professional subjects), awarded on the basis of coursework and adjunct requirements (if any) successfully completed by the conferee.
In some languages, when addressing several persons of whom each holds a doctor title, one can use the plural abbreviation Dres. E.g, instead of Dr. Miller and Dr. Rubinstein: Dres. Miller and Rubinstein.
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