I woke up this morning to hear that the government was calling for more polyclinics. I’d never heard of such a thing before, and the coverage I’ve heard and read today seems to confirm that it’s not a common term in this country. For example, in the Times, the word is quoted as if it’s not an accepted item of vocabulary:
The traditional doctor’s surgery could soon be replaced by a new batch of “polyclinics”, according to the health minister charged with reviewing the NHS.
Polyclinics, for what it’s worth, turn out to be centres that house general practitioners, nurses, and specialists of various fields in one location.
I was intrigued, though—I wanted to know where this odd-sounding word that (to me) had appeared out of nowhere really came from, and if it had any unusual origins. It looks like it’s just clinic prefixed with poly- for ‘many’, which would make sense. But according to the OED, that’s not the case:
E19 [German Poliklinik, from Greek polis city + German klinik clinic, later assim. to POLY-.]
So it’s really a folk etymology, but one that probably works better than the real etymology.