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 While less than 1 inch of rain is forecast for portions of central and southern California and the Southwest, any rain is welcome as these areas continue to suffer from a growing drought. Allison Chinchar, CNN, "Millions of Americans brace for severe storms, flash floods and possible tornadoes this week," 25 Apr. 2021 Wealthier Americans tend to be doing better during the recovery, and many remain concerned about the unevenness of the recovery as Black, Hispanic and Asian American communities continue to suffer deeper job and business losses. Anchorage Daily News, "Biden’s economy shows strength, with optimism rising, businesses rebounding and hunger decreasing," 22 Apr. 2021 This is not the case in the real market because the market might suffer from surprising spikes and drops. Veena Jetti, Forbes, "All About Sharpe Ratios In Multifamily Investments," 20 Apr. 2021 What’s emerged in the year since legalization is a parallel world where some are able to enjoy marijuana without consequence, while others continue to suffer from the policies of the drug war era. William Lee,, "Parallel worlds emerge in the first year of legalization as Blacks make up more than three-quarters of marijuana-related arrests while boutique dispensaries take off," 15 Apr. 2021 While Major League Baseball, which recently moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Colorado in protest of the law, will not suffer materially from the exit, a move out of Georgia would be both onerous and expensive for movie studios. Washington Post, "Apple and Will Smith move their new film ‘Emancipation’ about slavery out of Georgia to protest voting-rights law," 12 Apr. 2021 Whether or not one expects Washington to suddenly embrace spending discipline in 2031, the private economy will continue to suffer, according to the Wharton projection. James Freeman, WSJ, "How Many Jobs Will Be Lost to Biden ‘Infrastructure’?," 9 Apr. 2021 Colorado’s key hospitality and restaurant industries continue to suffer, and overall, the state has recovered just 57% of all jobs lost since the pandemic began, the legislative report said. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Renegade rodeo, Microsoft returns, Texas Roadhouse: News from around our 50 states," 23 Mar. 2021 In the meantime, the Yemeni people continue to suffer, especially children. Conor Finnegan, ABC News, "Amid airstrikes, rebel offensive, Saudi Arabia offers peace initiative to end war in Yemen," 22 Mar. 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

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Suffer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 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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Comments on suffer

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