1 : a vote given in deciding a disputed question or electing a person for an office or trust
2 : the right of voting; also : the exercise of such right
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.
On August 26, 1920-42 years after such an amendment had first been introduced in Congress-the Nineteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution became law, finally granting women suffrage.
"The Clark Chateau, 321 W. Broadway St., is hosting an exhibit that celebrates the centennial of women’s suffrage in the state of Montana." - Montana Standard, July 9, 2014
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
What English word derived from Anglo-French "franc," meaning "free," also refers to the right of voting? The answer is …
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