suf·​fer | \ˈsə-fər \
suffered; suffering\ ˈsə-​f(ə-​)riŋ \

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 \ adjective
sufferableness noun
sufferably \ ˈsə-​f(ə-​)rə-​blē \ adverb
sufferer \ ˈsə-​fər-​ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for suffer


allow, green-light, have, permit


ban, enjoin, forbid, prohibit, proscribe, veto

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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

Actively managed funds have suffered net outflows of more than $500 billion since 2015, according to Morningstar. Justin Baer, WSJ, "The Investor Fever for Passive Funds Is Cooling in 2018," 13 July 2018 Every single one of my favorite properties—Eden Rock, Le Guanahani, Le Toiny, Le Sereno, Le Barthelemy, and Cheval Blanc—suffered damage so severe, they'd be shut down for at least a year, if not more. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "How St. Barth's Survived the Devastating Hurricanes of 2017," 10 July 2018 Later on, in a more intimate moment, Jason opened up about a very tough moment his father shared with his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimers. Nick Schwartz, For The Win, "Bachelorette Power Rankings: Becca finally realizes that Chris is the worst," 3 July 2018 Pusha then brings his focus to Drizzy's right-hand producer, OVO 40, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Pusha T & Drake's Feud, Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music Domination, XXXTentacion's Death, 'Scorpion' & More: Recapping a Wild 40 Days in Hip-Hop," 2 July 2018 Also at the Arts Center, one wall in a gallery will be reserved for a benefit exhibit in support of the Howard County Arts Council Re-CREATE Ellicott City artist relief fund to support artists who have suffered financial losses due to the flooding. Janet Kusterer, Howard County Times, "A wedding unites community [Mostly Main Street]," 28 June 2018 The Taliaferro Classic is a June staple that raises money for athletes who have suffered spinal injuries. Ben Pope,, "For Towson-bound Kevin Zehner, Taliaferro all-star game a sweet sendoff," 28 June 2018 Investigators also discovered that Vera had recently been suffering from depression. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "California mom drowns two children, hangs self, police say," 13 July 2018 His mother has suffered from lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, for the past 13 years, and has Sjogren’s syndrome and arthritis, both chronic diseases. Austin Horn, San Antonio Express-News, "With ACA under attack, a family racked by illness wonders what will happen to their health coverage," 13 July 2018

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 suffren, from Anglo-French suffrir, from Vulgar Latin *sufferire, from Latin sufferre, from sub- up + ferre to bear — more at sub-, bear

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Statistics for suffer

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for suffer

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

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More Definitions for suffer



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 \
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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Comments on suffer

What made you want to look up suffer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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