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[suhf-er-uh ns, suhf-ruh ns] /ˈsʌf ər əns, ˈsʌf rəns/
passive permission resulting from lack of interference; tolerance, especially of something wrong or illegal (usually preceded by on or by).
capacity to endure pain, hardship, etc.; endurance.
Archaic. suffering; misery.
Archaic. patient endurance.
Origin of sufferance
1250-1300; Middle English suffrance < Old French soufrance, < Late Latin sufferentia, equivalent to suffer(re) to suffer + -entia -ence, -ance
Related forms
nonsufferance, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sufferance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All others, so far as she was concerned, existed only on the sufferance of remoteness.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be, by Christian example?

  • Would the society in which I move be reminded that they accept me on sufferance?

    Davenport Dunn, Volume 1 (of 2) Charles James Lever
  • We are outlaws in the dear land that is ours; we dwell on sufferance where our fathers ruled!

    The Wild Geese Stanley John Weyman
  • "You forget that I saw all these things, as it were, on sufferance," replied she.

  • It wasn't Abbot who endorsed him at all, except by silence and sufferance, you may say.

    A War-Time Wooing

    Charles King
  • The British, he said, were usurpers and only there on sufferance.

    In the Forbidden Land Arnold Henry Savage Landor
  • Even this ground you hold only on the sufferance of the Earthmen.

    Giants on the Earth Sterner St. Paul Meek
  • It was hard to realize that he could see Blent now only by another's will or sufferance.

    Tristram of Blent Anthony Hope
British Dictionary definitions for sufferance


/ˈsʌfərəns; ˈsʌfrəns/
tolerance arising from failure to prohibit; tacit permission
capacity to endure pain, injury, etc
the state or condition of suffering
(archaic) patient endurance
on sufferance, with reluctance
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Late Latin sufferentia endurance, from Latin sufferre to suffer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sufferance

c.1300, "enduring of hardship, affliction, etc.," also "allowance of wrongdoing," from Old French suffrance, from Late Latin sufferentia, from sufferre (see suffer).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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