suf·​fer·​ing | \ˈsə-f(ə-)riŋ \

Definition of suffering 

1 : the state or experience of one that suffers

2 : pain

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

With deep tenderness and a wonderful, feather-light sense of humor, Mr. Thier rehearses ancient conundrums over free will and the existence of evil while itemizing the blessings that make life worth the suffering. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Depraved and Beautiful Dream of the World," 12 July 2018 That represented an enormous amount of waste and unnecessary suffering. Eric Boodman, STAT, "Computers may surpass rabbits and rodents for some chemical safety tests," 11 July 2018 There’s a difference between taking care of yourself and putting yourself through suffering. The Cut, "25 Famous People on Taking Care of Their Skin," 11 July 2018 An 89-year-old suffering symptoms of a stroke was medevaced off a Carnival cruise ship Monday evening, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "Coast Guard medevacs 89-year-old off Carnival cruise ship as it heads for Jamaica," 10 July 2018 So far, the data do not show that trade is suffering. The Economist, "To resist Trump, Canadians try local ketchup," 5 July 2018 To enjoy Neymar requires forgiving the bouts of exaggerated suffering. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Annoying Genius Who Makes the World Cup Worth Watching," 5 July 2018 Both sides had committed atrocities; there was no monopoly on suffering. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018 Human Rights Watch has also stated that poor health care at immigration detention facilities is responsible for severe suffering, and sometimes the preventable death, of the people being housed there. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Detained immigrant comes down with chickenpox days after prison staff said there weren’t enough doctors," 20 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of suffering

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about suffering

Statistics for suffering

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for suffering

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for suffering



English Language Learners Definition of suffering

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

sufferings : feelings of pain


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

Kids Definition of suffering

: pain experienced during an injury or loss

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on suffering

Spanish Central: Translation of suffering

Nglish: Translation of suffering for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of suffering for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about suffering

Comments on suffering

What made you want to look up suffering? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!