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From Middle English "prayers or pleas on behalf of another", from Old French, from Medieval Latin suffragium, from Latin suffragium ‎(support, vote, right of voting). The sense of "vote" or "right to vote" was directly derived from classical Latin.



suffrage ‎(usually uncountable, plural suffrages)

  1. (uncountable) The right or chance to vote, express an opinion, or participate in a decision.
  2. (countable) A vote in deciding a particular question.
    • 1833, Henry Clay, Thomas Hart Benton, editor, Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856[1], published 1859, page 213:
      But the President himself says that " upon him has been devolved, by the constitution, and the suffrages of the American people, the duty of superintending the operation of the executive departments of the Government,
    • 1822, Edward Wynne, William Meechan Bythewood, Eunomus: or, Dialogues concerning the law and constitution of England, volume 2, page 369:
      Hence, by rendering the suffrages secret in the Roman republic, all was lost; it was no longer possible to direct a populace that sought its own destruction
  3. The right to vote for elected officials in a representative democracy.
    universal suffrage, women's suffrage, negro suffrage
  4. (US) The right of women to vote.
  5. (countable, Christianity) A prayer, for example a prayer offered for the faithful dead.
    • (Can we find and add a quotation of Shipley to this entry?)
    • (Can we date this quote?) Creed of Pope Pius IV
      I firmly believe that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.
    • 1969, G. J. Cuming, A history of Anglican liturgy:
      As these holy prayers and suffrages following are set forth of most godly zeal for edifying and stirring of devotion of all true faithful Christian hearts []
    • 2006, John E. Curran, Hamlet, Protestantism, and the Mourning of Contingency: Not to Be, page 86:
      In explaining and defending suffrages for the dead, Catholic argument repeatedly involved the assumption of the importance of time.
  6. (countable, Christianity) A short petition, as those after the creed in matins and evensong.
    • 1904, John Newton McCormick, The litany and the life: a series of studies in the litany ..., page 222:
      Lastly, in this suffrage, we intercede for prisoners and captives; we "remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them."
  7. (uncountable) Aid, intercession.
  8. Testimony; attestation; witness; approval.
    • Atterbury
      Lactantius and St. Austin confirm by their suffrage the observation made by heathen writers.
    • South
      Every miracle is the suffrage of Heaven to the truth of a doctrine.
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Related terms[edit]



Borrowed from Latin suffragium ‎(support, vote, right of voting).


suffrage m ‎(plural suffrages)

  1. suffrage (right to vote)
  2. suffrage (prayer)

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