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 casting of votes and the storming of the Capitol did not interrupt what has been, for many, a great period of suffering. Blair Mcclendon, The New Republic, "The Presidency Is a Bad Job," 19 Jan. 2021 Much of the suffering happening right now is coming from the West Coast. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "Newsrooms focus on insurrection and impeachment, but there's still a pandemic," 15 Jan. 2021 Also expect tributes to health care and other essential workers, as well as acknowledgment of the year’s grave events, from lives lost to economic suffering. oregonlive, "New Year’s Eve 2020 TV specials: How to watch and stream toasts, roasts, Pink Martini, and more," 31 Dec. 2020 The accompanying photography and video—in their breadth of style, composition, and vibrancy—bear witness to the suffering and resiliency of a city in crisis. Monica Racic, The New Yorker, "The Year in New Yorker Interactive Storytelling," 29 Dec. 2020 Scholars have found that victim impact evidence also contributes to the already substantial racial differences in capital sentencing, with juries giving more weight to the suffering of white murder victims’ families. Austin Sarat, The Conversation, "When families of murder victims speak at death penalty trials, their anguish may make sentencing less fair," 18 Dec. 2020 Our state has seen an outpouring of support from nonprofit partners who’ve stepped up to the plate to provide aid and services to those suffering., "Gov. Ned Lamont’s Thanksgiving message to state: I am grateful to live in Connecticut," 26 Nov. 2020 Cutting too little carbon makes the world endure higher total costs, but similarly, cutting too much will lead to more total suffering. New York Times, "Letters to the Editor," 14 Aug. 2020 As the terrible human and economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic accelerates in the United States, the Trump administration seems bent on finding new ways to communicate its total indifference to widespread suffering. David Faris, TheWeek, "How the Electoral College made America's pandemic response worse," 5 Aug. 2020

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

18 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Suffering.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 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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