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

Kristy SparowGetty Images Many of us are familiar with the pain and suffering of a photographically selfish partner. Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "John Legend Proved He's a Good Instagram Husband After Chrissy Teigen Called Him Out," 28 Aug. 2019 Thank you, first responders, for enduring trauma every week while trying to ease our pain and suffering. The Denver Post Editorial Board, The Denver Post, "Editorial: Give aid to those in law enforcement who serve us in our darkest hours," 14 Aug. 2019 Father Bochanski: The question of why a good God permits evil and suffering is as old as humanity, and there’s no simple answer to it. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "Could You Use Some Hope?," 10 Aug. 2019 Bonilla said the lawsuit seeks monetary damages of not less than $200,000 and no more than $1 million for any past or future physical pain and suffering, mental or emotional pain and anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement and medical expenses. Elizabeth Zavala,, "San Antonio woman suing city, Lime for injuries after being thrown from e-scooter after hitting pothole," 1 Aug. 2019 After reducing the Pilliods’ compensation for economic losses and pain and suffering from about $55 million to a little over $17 million, Smith set punitive damages at four times that amount, $69.4 million. Bob Egelko,, "Alameda County judge reduces $2 billion jury award in Monsanto case to $86.7 million," 25 July 2019 Shortages of food, water, gas, and medical supplies, compounded by an impassable traffic jam foretold of suffering if not violence. Mark Clague, The Conversation, "Fifty years ago, Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock anthem expressed the hopes and fears of a nation," 14 Aug. 2019 Having experienced a marginal existence all their lives, the Toggerys seem to have developed an immunity to suffering. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: Jamul Indian Village grew at cemetery site," 6 Aug. 2019 The other is in terms of suffering, and how the Browns fans deserve this more than any group of fans in the NFL. Doug Lesmerises,, "Deserving the start of a Browns season that’s leaving even the owners unable to sleep: Doug Lesmerises," 26 July 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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Statistics for suffering

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for suffering

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

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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

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


readily or continually undergoing change

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