[ 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.

Origin of suffering

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


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

Definition for suffering (2 of 2)

[ 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

OTHER WORDS FROM suffer Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for suffering

British Dictionary definitions for suffering (1 of 2)

/ (ˈsʌfərɪŋ, ˈsʌfrɪŋ) /


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

Derived forms of suffering

sufferingly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for suffering (2 of 2)

/ (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 forms of suffer

sufferer, noun

Word Origin for 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
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

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.