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

The Trailers The first trailer (16.4 million views on YouTube), also released in February, begins by showing that Johnson is — or was — a soldier who suffered an injury leading to the loss of one leg. Chris Thilk, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' Sells Itself as an Action Throwback," 13 July 2018 Both departments of health report that a portion of the people who suffered from the illness had eaten a salad at a McDonald’s in the days leading to their sickness. Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the Cyclospora parasite. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "More Than 100 People Ill From Parasite Possibly Linked to McDonald's Salads," 13 July 2018 Now a state appeals court has ordered the money be used for its original intent: to help homeowners who suffered foreclosures. Bob Egelko,, "California ordered to restore $331 million to fund for homeowners," 12 July 2018 The man who suffered a 6-inch-deep stab wound to the stomach, Terry Honore, is expected to make a full recovery, KTEN reported. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "They went to see ‘The First Purge.’ He stabbed a man over a reserved seat, Texas cops say," 12 July 2018 The disability community’s concerns are valid, and have started a necessary conversation about who benefits—and who suffers—from efforts to clean up the ocean. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "Critics of Starbucks’ Straw Ban Are Missing the Point," 12 July 2018 As a result, unlike the other elite who suffered from the turnout, Sadr’s party of newcomer candidates maintained its electoral base and Geagea’s party managed to snatch votes formerly given to the establishment Free Patriotic Movement. Renad Mansour, Washington Post, "An emerging populism is sweeping the Middle East," 11 July 2018 Toni Collette is Oscar-worthy brilliant as an artist who suffers great tragedy and, while recovering, learns a little more about her late mother than maybe was ideal. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Here are the best movies of 2018 (so far)," 11 July 2018 Shriver envisioned a national or international movement providing winning moments for children who often suffered ridicule and seldom enjoyed public triumphs. Alice George, Smithsonian, "For 50 Years, the Special Olympics Has Given Marginalized Superstars Center Stage," 10 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

31 Aug 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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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