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
suffrage was our Word of the Day on 08/26/2014. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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 of suffrage from the Web
In the early 20th century the suffrage movement claimed her as one of its icons, marching with her name emblazoned upon its banners as proof of women’s intellectual prowess.
In 1913, the Times asked the second lady her opinion on women’s suffrage.
The group hopes to have their dream actualized by August 2020, the centennial of women suffrage in the United States.
But in 2014, Beijing denied Hong Kongers the universal suffrage promised to the city under its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, triggering massive streets protests that paralyzed much of the city for more than two months.
Protesters have also been calling for universal suffrage in electing Hong Kong’s government leader.
Kaplan quotes Lincoln’s disavowal, in his 1858 debates with Stephen A. Douglas, of black suffrage, jury service and other rights.
The Conservatives even lost Canterbury, a Tory seat since the advent of universal male suffrage in 1918.
The newspaper editor and his sister engaged in many public exchanges over the topic of women's suffrage.
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
SUFFRAGE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of suffrage for English Language Learners
: the right to vote in an election
SUFFRAGE Defined for Kids
Definition of suffrage for Students
: the right to vote
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 Senate — U.S. Constitution art. V
2 : the right of voting : franchise; also : the exercise of such right
Origin and Etymology of suffrage
Latin suffragium vote, political support, from suffragari to support with one's vote
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up suffrage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).