c.1200, "quality of being patient in suffering," from O.Fr. pacience, from L. patientia "patience, endurance," from patientem (nom. patiens), prp. of pati "to suffer, endure," from PIE base *pei- "to damage, injure, hurt" (see passion).
Patience n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue. [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]
Meaning "constancy in effort" is attested from 1510s. Meaning "card game for one person" is from 1816.