suf·​fer·​ing | \ ˈsə-f(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce suffering (audio) \

Definition of suffering

1 : the state or experience of one that suffers
2 : pain

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Choose the Right Synonym for suffering

distress, suffering, misery, agony mean the state of being in great trouble. distress implies an external and usually temporary cause of great physical or mental strain and stress. the hurricane put everyone in great distress suffering implies conscious endurance of pain or distress. the suffering of famine victims misery stresses the unhappiness attending especially sickness, poverty, or loss. the homeless live with misery every day agony suggests pain too intense to be borne. in agony over the death of their child

Examples of suffering in a Sentence

ways to alleviate human suffering They hope these new drugs will help to bring an end to the suffering of arthritis patients. His lawsuit seeks damages for pain and suffering. the sufferings of the dying
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Recent Examples on the Web The next day, Corey Johnson, also fifty-two, waited until 10 pm for an answer from the Supreme Court regarding the suffering pentobarbital would cause him—a ruling that would also apply to Higgs. Caroline Lester, Harper's Magazine, "The Lightning Farm," 27 Apr. 2021 In conversation, Bernstein is lively and loquacious, qualities that can mask so much silent suffering. Washington Post, "She brought kids joy with her ‘magical’ toys. And hid her own misery until it became unbearable.," 27 Apr. 2021 The best rebuttal comes from Michael Herr: Not even Robert Bresson showed more suffering in his films. Andrew Delbanco, The New York Review of Books, "Kubrick’s Human Comedy," 27 Apr. 2021 My personal trials have also taught me the value of unmerited suffering. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "Martin Luther King Jr. Knew Something about Why Life Matters," 26 Apr. 2021 To most people, substantial physical suffering and disability are certainly evidence of disease — not proof, but evidence. Diane O'leary, STAT, "Needed for long Covid: a less authoritarian approach to understanding, treatment," 24 Apr. 2021 In addition to restaurant sales suffering, the Reaveses are also State Fair of Texas concessionaires — and about a third of their sales disappeared when the fair was canceled in 2020. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "On TV show ‘Restaurant Recovery,’ Dallas barbecue joint gets $100,000 mid-pandemic," 22 Apr. 2021 Only six months ago, the outlook was brightening for the bank’s long suffering shareholders. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, "‘Unacceptable’: Credit Suisse reveals further mega losses from the disastrous Archegos trade," 22 Apr. 2021 But the clarity that comes with intense suffering often clouds as time moves on. New York Times, "“How do we go forward?”," 18 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'suffering.' 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 suffering

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for suffering

Time Traveler

The first known use of suffering was in the 14th century

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Statistics for suffering

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Suffering.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for suffering



English Language Learners Definition of suffering

: pain that is caused by injury, illness, loss, etc. : physical, mental, or emotional pain
: feelings of pain


suf·​fer·​ing | \ ˈsə-fə-riŋ, ˈsə-friŋ \

Kids Definition of suffering

: pain experienced during an injury or loss

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Comments on suffering

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