One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Botany. Of a part of a plant: somewhat or partially patent.
2Medicine. Of a parasite or parasitic infection: present but not detectable by standard laboratory methods; compare "patent".
Early 19th century; earliest use found in William Hooker (1785–1865), botanist. From sub- + patent, originally after scientific Latin subpatens, specific use of present participle of classical Latin subpatēre to lie open or outspread (2nd cent. a.d. in Apuleius).
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