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 Though oftentimes harder to measure, experts said things like respect, work-life balance and family are increasingly becoming economic issues that cause disproportionate suffering for middle-class Americans. Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News, "Top 5 economic issues facing the middle class ahead of the 2020 elections," 10 Feb. 2020 The government is now set to try to relieve some of the suffering with a major expansion of Britain’s rail network and a reorganisation of the sector. The Economist, "Rail HS2 and the return of the fat controller," 6 Feb. 2020 Depue, who was 36 at the time, sued the county for $905,000 – $5,000 for economic damages and $900,000 for pain and suffering. oregonlive, "Jail inmate lawsuit over slipping in shower settled by Multnomah County for $5,000," 24 Jan. 2020 In these photographs, people are able to recognize their subjects as real human beings subjected to inhuman suffering. Paul Morrow, The Conversation, "Is it ethical to show Holocaust images?," 21 Jan. 2020 Despair, agony, and horror were compounded for powerless parents unable to alleviate their children’s fears and suffering. National Geographic, "," 16 Jan. 2020 Mizrach is charged with animal cruelty causing pain and suffering. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Naked man repeatedly stabbed, slashed landlord’s dog, cops say," 10 Dec. 2019 The 29-year-old’s payout included $1 million in medical costs, $1 million for loss of income and $2 million for pain and suffering, WESH reported. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "Seminole County jury awards $5 million to rap artist shot outside The Barn," 19 Nov. 2019 California law caps damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits at $250,000. Adam Beam, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Proposed ballot initiative targets California’s lawsuit caps," 26 Sep. 2019

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

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

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Statistics for suffering

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Suffering.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for suffering


How to pronounce suffering (audio)

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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