suf·​fer·​ing ˈsə-f(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce suffering (audio)
: the state or experience of one that suffers
: pain
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
Recent Examples on the Web For decades, the win-at-all-costs approach to gymnastics—evident at various gyms across the country—which prized compliance and an ethos of suffering, ignored athlete well-being and left gymnasts feeling like disposable commodities. Christine Yu, SELF, 17 July 2024 Géricault captured a moment of suffering and death, while Viola’s video extends a moment of suffering into a longer narrative. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 13 July 2024 Lawsuits filed by pedestrian accident victims typically seek damages for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and in cases of fatalities, wrongful death. Sacramento Bee, 11 July 2024 Being old is no protection against suffering; the aged Priam, mourning his son Hector, is assailed by the same desolate grief as Achilles. Rachel Hadas, The Conversation, 9 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for suffering 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'suffering.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near suffering

Cite this Entry

“Suffering.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the state or experience of one that suffers
: a pain or injury endured
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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