• synonyms


[suhf-er-uh ns, suhf-ruh ns]
  1. passive permission resulting from lack of interference; tolerance, especially of something wrong or illegal (usually preceded by on or by).
  2. capacity to endure pain, hardship, etc.; endurance.
  3. Archaic. suffering; misery.
  4. Archaic. patient endurance.
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Origin of sufferance

1250–1300; Middle English suffrance < Old French soufrance, < Late Latin sufferentia, equivalent to suffer(re) to suffer + -entia -ence, -ance
Related formsnon·suf·fer·ance, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for on sufferance


  1. tolerance arising from failure to prohibit; tacit permission
  2. capacity to endure pain, injury, etc
  3. the state or condition of suffering
  4. archaic patient endurance
  5. on sufferance with reluctance
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Word Origin for sufferance

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

Word Origin and History for on sufferance



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with on sufferance

on sufferance

Barely tolerated; agreed to but unwillingly. For example, They rarely put a non-academic on the panel, so obviously I was there on sufferance. This expression uses sufferance in the sense of “toleration,” a usage obsolete except in this idiom. [Mid-1500s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.