suf·​fer·​ing ˈsə-f(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce suffering (audio)
: the state or experience of one that suffers
: pain
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
Recent Examples on the Web Athill’s troubles fit the mold of the memoir of suffering, but her unruffled attitude doesn’t. Hillary Kelly, The New Yorker, 21 Feb. 2024 This critique reflects the efforts historians have made in recent years to focus on the sufferings of people who lived in the countries caught in the Cold War crossfire. Niall Ferguson, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 For those of some faiths, the act of suffering can be an experience providing for purification, redemption, and salvation. Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Prince William is recognizing the work of aid workers amid the human suffering caused by the conflict in the Middle East and the rise in antisemitism. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 20 Feb. 2024 The two leaders spoke about efforts to revive a cease-fire, exchange captives and end humanitarian suffering. NBC News, 19 Feb. 2024 The Yale research aims to understand the condition to relieve the suffering of those affected and improve the safety of vaccines, said Harlan Krumholz, a principal investigator of the study, and director of the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation. Jason Gale, Fortune Well, 19 Feb. 2024 Israel's military says Hamas is responsible for civilian casualties and suffering, and that the next target is Rafah. Wafaa Shurafa, Quartz, 16 Feb. 2024 Now having collaborated with the director, Lachman recognizes the suffering of the Chileans. Daron James, Los Angeles Times, 13 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'suffering.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near suffering

Cite this Entry

“Suffering.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the state or experience of one that suffers
: a pain or injury endured
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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