suffrage

noun
suf·​frage | \ˈsə-frij, sometimes -fə-rij\

Definition of suffrage 

1 : a short intercessory prayer usually in a series

2 : a vote given in deciding a controverted question or electing a person for an office or trust

3 : the right of voting : franchise also : the exercise of such right

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Synonyms & Antonyms for suffrage

Synonyms

ballot, enfranchisement, franchise, vote

Antonyms

disenfranchisement

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Did You Know?

Why would a 17th-century writer warn people that a chapel was only for "private or secret suffrages"? Because in addition to the meanings listed above, "suffrage" has been used since the 14th century to mean "prayer" (especially a prayer requesting divine help or intercession). So how did "suffrage" come to mean "a vote" or "the right to vote"? To answer that, we must look to the word’s Latin ancestor, suffragium, which can be translated as "vote," "support," or "prayer." That term produced descendants in a number of languages, and English picked up its senses of "suffrage" from two different places. We took the "prayer" sense from a Middle French suffragium offspring that emphasized the word’s spiritual aspects, and we elected to adopt the "voting" senses directly from the original Latin.

Examples of suffrage in a Sentence

women who fought for suffrage even as the world entered the 21st century, some nations still did not permit women's suffrage

Recent Examples on the Web

Her mother Edna Fischel Gellhorn was a tireless advocate for the disenfranchised, championing women’s suffrage, child welfare laws, and free health clinics. Paula Mclain, Town & Country, "The Extraordinary Life of Martha Gellhorn, the Woman Ernest Hemingway Tried to Erase," 12 July 2018 The terrain of the dispute changes, such that the once sharply contested is suddenly tacitly agreed to by all parties with any power (like universal suffrage, Social Security, and a large standing army with global bases). Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Stop making second American Civil War clickbait," 1 June 2018 Not long after, women were granted suffrage, doubling the number of Oregon voters. Special To The Oregonian, OregonLive.com, "In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning," 5 May 2018 Black suffrage was seen as a political failure; the system of Jim Crow segregation that followed was justified as a political necessity. Harrison Smith, latimes.com, "Willie Lee Rose, influential historian of slavery and Reconstruction, dies at 91," 27 June 2018 From Mother Jones: That practice, detailed in 2015 by Mother Jones, makes restoring a person’s suffrage a personal decision by top state officials. Monique Judge, The Root, "Felons in Florida May Have an Easier Time Restoring Their Right to Vote," 2 Feb. 2018 Black suffrage was seen as a political failure; the system of Jim Crow segregation that followed was justified as a political necessity. Harrison Smith, latimes.com, "Willie Lee Rose, influential historian of slavery and Reconstruction, dies at 91," 27 June 2018 President Grant didn’t send troops to Mississippi when black suffrage was overturned. WSJ, "The North Helped Reconstruction’s Failure," 1 June 2018 On both sides of the Atlantic, the suffrage and labor movements were intimately entwined. Joanna Scutts, The New Republic, "The Fight Women Won," 20 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'suffrage.' 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 suffrage

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for suffrage

in sense 1, from Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin suffragium, from Latin, vote, political support, from suffragari to support with one's vote; in other senses, from Latin suffragium

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Statistics for suffrage

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for suffrage

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

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More Definitions for suffrage

suffrage

noun

English Language Learners Definition of suffrage

: the right to vote in an election

suffrage

noun
suf·​frage | \ˈsə-frij \

Kids Definition of suffrage

: the right to vote

suffrage

noun
suf·​frage | \ˈsə-frij \

Legal Definition of suffrage 

1 : a vote in deciding a controverted question or the choice of a person for an office or trust no State…shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the SenateU.S. Constitution art. V

2 : the right of voting : franchise also : the exercise of such right

History and Etymology for suffrage

Latin suffragium vote, political support, from suffragari to support with one's vote

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