verb suf·fer \ ˈsə-fər \
|Updated on: 17 Aug 2018

Definition of suffer

suffered; suffering play \ˈsə-f(ə-)riŋ\
1 a : 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
1 : to endure death, pain, or distress
2 : to sustain loss or damage
3 : to be subject to disability or handicap


play \ˈsə-f(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective




play \ˈsə-f(ə-)rə-blē\ adverb


play \ˈsə-fər-ər\ noun

Examples of suffer in a Sentence

  1. He died instantly and did not suffer.

  2. He suffered a heart attack and died instantly.

  3. She suffered an injury during the game.

  4. We suffered a great deal during the war.

  5. I hate to see a child suffer.

  6. She suffered through another one of their long visits.

  7. The team suffered a defeat in the play-offs.

  8. Their relationship suffered because of her work.

Recent Examples of suffer from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

SUFFER Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of suffer for English Language Learners

  • : 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

SUFFER Defined for Kids


verb suf·fer \ ˈsə-fər \

Definition of suffer for Students

suffered; suffering
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 : 1permit 1
  • “I have done what man could. Suffer me to go.”
  • —Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee


\ˈsə-fər-ər\ noun

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