suffrage

noun
suf·​frage | \ ˈsə-frij How to pronounce suffrage (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for suffrage

Synonyms

Antonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 The bust of York is still in the park, at the former site of a statue of Harvey Scott, a former editor of The Oregonian, who opposed women's suffrage. Leah Asmelash, CNN, 8 Mar. 2021 In 1995, then-President Bill Clinton announced an Interagency Council on Women, pegged to the 75th anniversary of women's suffrage. refinery29.com, 17 Feb. 2021 Others added that the color represents women's suffrage. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 20 Jan. 2021 Like the color white, purple is also representative of women's suffrage. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, 20 Jan. 2021 California granted women's suffrage in 1911, followed by Oregon in 1912. Jessica Flores, USA Today, 25 Aug. 2020 One hundred years ago this August, women's suffrage was codified into law, becoming the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Aug. 2020 Harvey Scott, the former editor of The Oregonian who vociferously opposed the women’s suffrage movement and whose statue was torn down from Mt. Tabor Park, was another potential target. oregonlive, 27 May 2021 Two issues dominated the gathering: suffrage and apportionment. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 17 May 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of suffrage

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for suffrage

Middle English, "help, aid, intercessory prayer, indulgence," borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Medieval Latin suffrāgium "vote, selection, aid, support, intercessory prayer," going back to Latin, "vote cast in an assembly, right to vote, decision reached by a vote, influence exerted in support of a candidate or policy," from suffrāgor, suffrāgārī "to express public support (for a candidate, measure, etc.), be favorable (toward)" (from suf-, assimilated form of sub- sub- + -frāg-, probably from the base of frangere, past participle frāctus, "to break, shatter") + -ium, deverbal suffix of function or state — more at break entry 1

Note: Senses of suffrage having to do with voting were borrowed directly from classical Latin from the 16th century onward. The older literal meaning of Latin suffrāgārī that presumably underlies the attested senses having to do with political support and voting is obscure. Though the identity of suf- is clear, the element -frāg- has been subject to varying analyses. The most commonly accepted view sees -frāg- —despite the unexpected vowel length—as representing the verb frangere, though the import is not obvious. The idea that the reference is to the use of broken pieces of tile or pottery in voting is unlikely in view of what is known of earlier Roman election practices; moreover, the primary meaning of the verb suffrāgārī is more oriented toward support of a candidate than the mechanics of voting. In a revival of an older analysis Jyri Vaahtera connects -frāg- with the noun fragor "noise of breaking, crash, noisy clamor, shouting," and assumes that the verb alluded to the noise of an armed assembly banging weapons as a sign of acclamation (see "The origin of Latin suffrāgium," Glotta, vol. 61 [1993], pp. 66-80.)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About suffrage

Time Traveler for suffrage

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About suffrage

Statistics for suffrage

Last Updated

17 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Suffrage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suffrage. Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce suffrage (audio) \

Kids Definition of suffrage

: the right to vote

suffrage

noun
suf·​frage | \ ˈsə-frij How to pronounce suffrage (audio) \

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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