[suhf-ruh-guh n]


assisting or auxiliary to, as applied to any bishop in relation to the archbishop or metropolitan who is his superior, or as applied to an assistant or subsidiary bishop who performs episcopal functions in a diocese but has no ordinary jurisdiction, as, in the Church of England, a bishop consecrated to assist the ordinary bishop of a see in part of his diocese.
(of a see or diocese) subordinate to an archiepiscopal or metropolitan see.


a suffragan bishop.

Origin of suffragan

1350–1400; Middle English suffragane < Medieval Latin suffrāgāneus voting, equivalent to suffrāg(ium) suffrage + -āneus, composite adj. suffix, equivalent to -ān(us) -an + -eus -eous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for suffragan

Historical Examples of suffragan

British Dictionary definitions for suffragan



  1. (of any bishop of a diocese) subordinate to and assisting his superior archbishop or metropolitan
  2. (of any assistant bishop) having the duty of assisting the bishop of the diocese to which he is appointed but having no ordinary jurisdiction in that diocese


a suffragan bishop
Derived Formssuffraganship, noun

Word Origin for suffragan

C14: from Medieval Latin suffragāneus, from suffrāgium assistance, from Latin: suffrage
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 suffragan

late 14c., "bishop who assists another bishop," from Anglo-French and Old French suffragan (13c.), from Medieval Latin suffraganeus "assisting, supporting," from Latin suffragium "support" (see suffrage).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper