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From Middle English suffren, from Anglo-Norman suffrir, from Latin sufferre (to offer, hold up, bear, suffer), from sub- (up, under) + ferō (I carry), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰer- (to bear, carry). Displaced native Old English þrōwian.


  • (UK) enPR: sŭfʹər, IPA(key): /ˈsʌfə/
  • (US) enPR: sŭfʹər, IPA(key): /ˈsʌfɚ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌfə(ɹ)
  • Hyphenation: suf‧fer


suffer (third-person singular simple present suffers, present participle suffering, simple past and past participle suffered)

  1. (intransitive) To undergo hardship.
    Synonym: bear
    Many artists suffer before becoming famous.
  2. (intransitive) To feel pain.
    Synonyms: agonize, anguish, thole; see also Thesaurus:suffer
    At least he didn't suffer when he died in the car crash.
  3. (intransitive) To become worse.
    Synonyms: deteriorate, worsen; see also Thesaurus:worsen
    If you keep partying like this, your school-work will suffer.
    • 1961 October, “Motive Power Miscellany: Scottish Region”, in Trains Illustrated, page 638:
      Our correspondent found that timekeeping had suffered following the substitution of Class 5 4-6-0s on these workings.
  4. (transitive) To endure, undergo.
    Synonyms: bear, dree, thole; see also Thesaurus:tolerate
    I've been suffering your insults for years.
    We hope you never have to suffer the same pain.
    • c. 1610–1611 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Winters Tale”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene iv]:
      If you may pleaſe to thinke I loue the King, / And through him, what’s neereſt to him, which is / Your gracious ſelfe; embrace but my direction, / If your more ponderous and ſetled proiect may ſuffer alteration.
    • 2013 July 6, “The rise of smart beta”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8843, page 68:
      Investors face a quandary. Cash offers a return of virtually zero in many developed countries; government-bond yields may have risen in recent weeks but they are still unattractive. Equities have suffered two big bear markets since 2000 and are wobbling again. It is hardly surprising that pension funds, insurers and endowments are searching for new sources of return.
  5. (transitive, archaic, law) To allow.
    Synonym: permit


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • English Creole:
    • Jamaican Creole: sofa





Etymology 1[edit]



  1. comparative degree of suf

Etymology 2[edit]


suffer m (plural suffers)

  1. Alternative form of sufferd




  1. second-person singular present active imperative of sufferō