suf·​fer | \ ˈsə-fər How to pronounce suffer (audio) \
suffered; suffering\ ˈsə-​f(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce suffer (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 suffer (audio) \ adjective
sufferableness noun
sufferably \ ˈsə-​f(ə-​)rə-​blē How to pronounce suffer (audio) \ adverb
sufferer \ ˈsə-​fər-​ər How to pronounce suffer (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 Across the country, Blacks and Latinos have been more likely to contract the disease and suffer more severe symptoms. Destine Gibson, Dallas News, "Residents in three Oak Cliff ZIP codes asked to sign up for vaccinations at Fair Park’s new FEMA site," 24 Feb. 2021 Members of the Southern Quarters community were told to leave or suffer the same fate. Cassie Armstrong,, "Explore Central Florida’s Black history," 19 Feb. 2021 Some workers skip bathroom breaks or suffer injuries in order to scan upwards of 300 items per hour. New York Times, "Amazon’s Great Labor Awakening," 18 Feb. 2021 But people and cattle did suffer and even died, as much like today, residents weren’t accustomed to the frigid weather. Laura Furr Mericas, Chron, "Houston got 20 inches of snow on Valentine's Day 1895," 15 Feb. 2021 One of the potential challenges facing recruiters may be the fact that most adolescents infected with the coronavirus suffer only mild illnesses or show no symptoms. Globe Staff,, "Moderna says vaccine study in adolescents has picked up speed," 3 Feb. 2021 The result, said Medical Alley's Mandle, is a collective frustration among business leaders whose companies suffer and whose long-term goals must move to a back burner. Jim Spencer, Star Tribune, "Vaccinations must be Job 1 for Biden administration, Minnesota business leaders say," 30 Jan. 2021 Stocks are better than bonds when costs rise, but still suffer as companies cannot always raise prices to maintain margins. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Markets Are Convinced: The Fed Won’t Come for the Punch Bowl," 22 Jan. 2021 Not only did Cleveland fans suffer another heartbreaking playoff loss, the kiss of death was served by Henne – a Michigan man, who was fantastic in relief of Mahomes ... aside from an unsightly interception. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "32 things we learned from divisional playoffs of the 2020 NFL season," 18 Jan. 2021

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

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Suffer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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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 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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