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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sufferance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some of the scoffed-at did, nevertheless, penetrate thither on sufferance.

    Les Misrables Victor Hugo
  • She cannot get over the feeling that she is merely on sufferance.

    Floyd Grandon's Honor Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • What is to requite me for all this courtesy on sufferance, all this mockery of consideration?

  • It was a new position for Lady Charlotte to be anywhere on sufferance.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Peshawur, the greatest garrison in northern India, was there on sufferance, apparently.

    Rung Ho! Talbot Mundy
  • If the widow and children remain there one night, they remain there on sufferance.

    The Bertrams Anthony Trollope
  • In Crvecurs France, where for centuries the people had lived on sufferance, tenure of the land seemed an inestimable privilege.

  • We may say that it exists by sufferance at Pekin, and nowhere else in the Empire.

    The Life of Gordon, Volume II Demetrius Charles Boulger
  • Whatever right he had to hold the office was derived from that original appointment and my own sufferance.

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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