Definition of suffrage in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsəfrij/


1The right to vote in political elections.
Example sentences
  • General elections with universal adult suffrage were held in April 1965, with several political parties represented.
  • Successive extensions of the right to vote produced universal adult suffrage by 1928 and made the House of Commons representative of the nation.
  • Bulgaria's 1991 constitution, which established a parliamentary republic, provides for a multiparty parliamentary system and free elections with universal adult suffrage.
franchise, right to vote, the vote, enfranchisement, ballot
1.1 archaic A vote given in assent to a proposal or in favor of the election of a particular person.
Example sentences
  • They are chosen by the people, by secret suffrages, and they are discouraged from speaking with anyone in private.
  • The Minister of State is responsible to the Prince, not to the National Council elected by a general suffrage.
  • Half of the members were to be appointed by the government and the other half to be elected on a limited suffrage.
2 (usually suffrages) A series of intercessory prayers or petitions.
Example sentences
  • Nor have we examined adequately suffrages for the dead, the question of indulgences, the role of Mary in Christian piety, or the sins of denominationalism against the communion that is God's present gift.
  • In their funerals and suffrages for the dead, they make great difference between the rich and the poor.
  • The most significant of these was of course the ability to say mass, acknowledged to be the most effective suffrage for the dead.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'intercessory prayers', also 'assistance'): from Latin suffragium, reinforced by French suffrage. The modern sense of 'right to vote' was originally US (dating from the late 18th century).

  • The Latin suffragium meant both ‘support’ and ‘right to vote’, and was formed from suf- ‘under, near’ and fragor ‘din, shout of approval’. In medieval Latin, when democracy was not relevant, the ‘support’ sense was strongest, and suffrage first came into English in the sense of prayers for the departed and of intercession. The sense of a vote reappeared in the mid 16th century, with the sense ‘a right to vote’ first appearing in the United States Constitution of 1787. Suffragette, for a female campaigner for suffrage, was an initially mocking coinage of the early 20th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: suf·frage

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