[ suhf-er-ing, suhf-ring ]
/ ˈsʌf ər ɪŋ, ˈsʌf rɪŋ /


the state of a person or thing that suffers.
Often sufferings. something suffered by a person or a group of people; pain: the sufferings of the slaves.

Nearby words

  1. suffer,
  2. suffer fools gladly,
  3. sufferable,
  4. sufferance,
  5. sufferer,
  6. sufferingly,
  7. suffern,
  8. suffice,
  9. suffice it to say,
  10. sufficiency

Origin of suffering

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at suffer, -ing1

Related formssuf·fer·ing·ly, adverbun·suf·fer·ing, adjective


[ suhf-er ]
/ ˈsʌf ər /

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 forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for suffering

British Dictionary definitions for suffering


/ (ˈsʌfərɪŋ, ˈsʌfrɪŋ) /


the pain, misery, or loss experienced by a person who suffers
the state or an instance of enduring pain, etc
Derived Formssufferingly, adverb


/ (ˈsʌfə) /


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 suffering
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with suffering


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.