early 13c., "come to (a person) to comfort or benefit," from O.Fr. visiter
, from L. visitare
"to go to see, come to inspect," frequentative of visere
"behold, visit" (a person or place), from pp. 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 ref. to sickness, punishment, etc.) is recorded from mid-14c. The noun is 1620s, from the verb.