[ suhf-er ]
See synonyms for: suffersufferedsufferingsuffers on

verb (used without object)
  1. to undergo or feel pain or distress: The patient is still suffering.

  2. to sustain injury, disadvantage, or loss: One's health suffers from overwork. The business suffers from lack of capital.

  1. to undergo a penalty, as of death: The traitor was made to suffer on the gallows.

  2. to endure pain, disability, death, etc., patiently or willingly.

verb (used with object)
  1. to undergo, be subjected to, or endure (pain, distress, injury, loss, or anything unpleasant): to suffer the pangs of conscience.

  2. to undergo or experience (any action, process, or condition): to suffer change.

  1. to tolerate or allow: I do not suffer fools gladly.

Origin of suffer

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English suff(e)ren, from Latin sufferre, from suf- suf- + ferre “to bring, carry”; compare Old French sofrir, from Vulgar Latin sufferīre (unrecorded); see also bear1, -phore

Other words for suffer

Other words from suffer

  • suf·fer·a·ble, adjective
  • suf·fer·a·ble·ness, noun
  • suf·fer·a·bly, adverb
  • suf·fer·er, noun
  • non·suf·fer·a·ble, adjective
  • non·suf·fer·a·ble·ness, noun
  • non·suf·fer·a·bly, adverb
  • outsuffer, verb (used with object)
  • pre·suf·fer, verb
  • un·suf·fer·a·ble, adjective
  • un·suf·fer·a·ble·ness, noun
  • un·suf·fer·a·bly, adverb

Words Nearby suffer Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use suffer in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for suffer


/ (ˈsʌfə) /

  1. to undergo or be subjected to (pain, punishment, etc)

  2. (tr) to undergo or experience (anything): to suffer a change of management

  1. (intr) to be set at a disadvantage: this author suffers in translation

  2. to be prepared to endure (pain, death, etc): he suffers for the cause of freedom

  3. (tr) archaic to permit (someone to do something): suffer the little children to come unto me

  4. suffer from

    • to be ill with, esp recurrently

    • to be given to: he suffers from a tendency to exaggerate

Origin of suffer

C13: from Old French soffrir, from Latin sufferre, from sub- + ferre to bear

usage For suffer

It is better to avoid using the words suffer and sufferer in relation to chronic illness or disability. They may be considered demeaning and disempowering. Suitable alternative are have, experience, be diagnosed with

Derived forms of suffer

  • sufferer, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with suffer


see not suffer fools gladly.

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