suf·​fer | \ ˈsə-fər How to pronounce suffer (audio) \
suffered; suffering\ ˈsə-​f(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce suffering (audio) \

Definition of suffer

transitive verb

1a : to submit to or be forced to endure suffer martyrdom
b : to feel keenly : labor under suffer thirst
3 : to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable
4 : to allow especially by reason of indifference the eagle suffers little birds to sing— William Shakespeare

intransitive verb

1 : to endure death, pain, or distress
2 : to sustain loss or damage
3 : to be subject to disability or handicap

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Other Words from suffer

sufferable \ ˈsə-​f(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce sufferable (audio) \ adjective
sufferableness noun
sufferably \ ˈsə-​f(ə-​)rə-​blē How to pronounce sufferably (audio) \ adverb
sufferer \ ˈsə-​fər-​ər How to pronounce sufferer (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for suffer

bear, suffer, endure, abide, tolerate, stand mean to put up with something trying or painful. bear usually implies the power to sustain without flinching or breaking. forced to bear a tragic loss suffer often suggests acceptance or passivity rather than courage or patience in bearing. suffering many insults endure implies continuing firm or resolute through trials and difficulties. endured years of rejection abide suggests acceptance without resistance or protest. cannot abide their rudeness tolerate suggests overcoming or successfully controlling an impulse to resist, avoid, or resent something injurious or distasteful. refused to tolerate such treatment stand emphasizes even more strongly the ability to bear without discomposure or flinching. unable to stand teasing

Examples of suffer in a Sentence

He died instantly and did not suffer. He suffered a heart attack and died instantly. She suffered an injury during the game. We suffered a great deal during the war. I hate to see a child suffer. She suffered through another one of their long visits. The team suffered a defeat in the play-offs. Their relationship suffered because of her work.
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Recent Examples on the Web Coleman was one of two Lions cornerbacks to suffer a hamstring injury in Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears and is one of three corners dealing with the injury overall. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions place cornerback Justin Coleman on injured reserve," 15 Sep. 2020 Those who died from the virus and their families are not the only ones to suffer from the poor national response to the pandemic, though. Soumya Rangarajan, Scientific American, "COVID-19's Other Unnecessary Death Toll," 15 Sep. 2020 The impact of such a low rate could be devastating on the rooftop solar industry in Utah, which according to testimony before the commission has already seen business suffer. Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Robert Gehrke: Rooftop solar in Utah is at a crossroads, and here’s one way forward," 14 Sep. 2020 Besides the digital economy, traders of grains and textiles, among other things, are seeing their businesses suffer. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "A tech firm with ties to Beijing is reportedly monitoring over 10,000 Indians, including Modi," 14 Sep. 2020 And even as schools of all type suffer financially as a result of the pandemic, Ms. DeVos has emphasized the struggles of private, religious schools. Collin Binkley, The Christian Science Monitor, "Is now the 'ideal time' to talk about school choice policies?," 14 Sep. 2020 Thiem somehow prevailed in the four-hour classic despite appearing to suffer from leg cramps in the tiebreak. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Dominic Thiem beats Alexander Zverev in five sets at US Open for first Grand Slam title," 14 Sep. 2020 San Francisco also continued to suffer from smoke pollution; those four cities topped the list of major cities with the worst air quality Friday, according to, which tracks air quality around the world. Gene Johnson, Star Tribune, "Wildfire smoke brings worst air quality to Portland, Seattle," 11 Sep. 2020 But Republican insiders do not expect Trump to suffer politically if another round of coronavirus aid becomes a victim of partisan gridlock in the Senate. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Senate Republicans need a coronavirus relief bill; Trump, not so much," 10 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'suffer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of suffer

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for suffer

Middle English sufferen, suffren, borrowed from Anglo-French suffrir, going back to Vulgar Latin *sufferīre, re-formation of Latin sufferre "to submit to, endure," from suf-, assimilated form of sub- sub- + ferre "to carry, bear" — more at bear entry 2

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Time Traveler for suffer

Time Traveler

The first known use of suffer was in the 13th century

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Statistics for suffer

Last Updated

19 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Suffer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for suffer


How to pronounce suffer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of suffer

: to experience pain, illness, or injury
: to experience something unpleasant (such as defeat, loss, or damage)
: to become worse because of being badly affected by something


suf·​fer | \ ˈsə-fər How to pronounce suffer (audio) \
suffered; suffering

Kids Definition of suffer

1 : to feel or endure pain, illness, or injury She suffers from arthritis.
2 : to experience something unpleasant Wilbur was merely suffering the doubts and fears that often go with finding a new friend.— E. B. White, Charlotte's Web
3 : to bear loss or damage Business suffered during the storm.
4 : to become worse His grades are suffering.
5 : permit entry 1 sense 1 “I have done what man could. Suffer me to go.”— Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee

Other Words from suffer

sufferer \ ˈsə-​fər-​ər \ noun

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