early 13c., "come to (a person) to comfort or benefit," from Old French visiter, 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" (see vision). Originally of the deity, later of pastors and doctors (c.1300), general sense of "pay a call" is from 1620s. Meaning "come upon, afflict" (in reference to sickness, punishment, etc.) is recorded from mid-14c. Related: Visited; visiting.