verb (used without object)

to undergo or feel pain or distress: The patient is still suffering.
to sustain injury, disadvantage, or loss: One's health suffers from overwork. The business suffers from lack of capital.
to undergo a penalty, as of death: The traitor was made to suffer on the gallows.
to endure pain, disability, death, etc., patiently or willingly.

verb (used with object)

Origin of suffer

1200–50; Middle English suff(e)ren < Latin sufferre, equivalent to suf- suf- + ferre to bear1; compare Old French sofrir < Vulgar Latin *sufferīre
Related formssuf·fer·a·ble, adjectivesuf·fer·a·ble·ness, nounsuf·fer·a·bly, adverbsuf·fer·er, nounnon·suf·fer·a·ble, adjectivenon·suf·fer·a·ble·ness, nounnon·suf·fer·a·bly, adverbout·suf·fer, verb (used with object)pre·suf·fer, verbun·suf·fer·a·ble, adjectiveun·suf·fer·a·ble·ness, nounun·suf·fer·a·bly, adverb

Synonyms for suffer Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sufferer

Contemporary Examples of sufferer

Historical Examples of sufferer

  • May not, however, so deep a sufferer be permitted to speak out?

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • She also has heard the moans of some sufferer, and importunes Pitu Salla to tell her who it is.

    Apu Ollantay


  • The sufferer had just wakened from sleep, and he motioned to Philip to raise him.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • A disorder which renders the sufferer unable to curb his tongue when you wish to talk.

  • As I was the sufferer I have the best right to tell the tale.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for sufferer



to undergo or be subjected to (pain, punishment, etc)
(tr) to undergo or experience (anything)to suffer a change of management
(intr) to be set at a disadvantagethis author suffers in translation
to be prepared to endure (pain, death, etc)he suffers for the cause of freedom
(tr) archaic to permit (someone to do something)suffer the little children to come unto me
suffer from
  1. to be ill with, esp recurrently
  2. to be given tohe suffers from a tendency to exaggerate
Derived Formssufferer, noun

Word Origin for suffer

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


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
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 sufferer



early 13c., "to be made to undergo, endure" (pain, death, punishment, judgment, grief), from Anglo-French suffrir, Old French sufrir, from Vulgar Latin *sufferire, variant of Latin sufferre "to bear, undergo, endure, carry or put under," from sub "up, under" (see sub-) + ferre "to carry" (see infer).

Replaced Old English þolian, þrowian. Meaning "to meekly submit to hardship" is from late 13c. That of "to undergo" (distress, suffering, etc.) is mid-14c. Meaning "to tolerate, allow" something to occur or continue is recorded from mid-13c. Related: Suffered; suffering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sufferer


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.