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suffer Line breaks: suf¦fer
Pronunciation: /ˈsʌfə/

Definition of suffer in English:


[with object]
1Experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant): he suffered intense pain [no object]: he’d suffered a great deal since his arrest
More example sentences
  • He learnt a great deal about the sufferings, the courage and the strengths of the East European churches.
  • The physical and psychological sufferings of survivors tend to pale in comparison to the total number of victims.
  • I feel like I should wear my battle wounds with pride, flaunt my sufferings, but I don't think I have suffered.
hurt, ache, be in pain, feel pain, be racked with pain, endure agony, agonize, be distressed, be in distress, experience hardship, be upset, be miserable, be wretched
undergo, experience, be subjected to, receive, encounter, meet with, endure, face, live through, go through, sustain, bear
informal hell, hell on earth
literary dolour
1.1 [no object] (suffer from) Be affected by or subject to (an illness or ailment): his daughter suffered from agoraphobia
More example sentences
  • The child was not suffering from any physical ailment which could be cured through surgery.
  • Sid suffers from a mental illness and spends his days rocking in a chair.
  • Police called an ambulance as the woman suffered from emphysema but she was not taken to hospital.
be afflicted by, be affected by, be troubled with, have, have trouble with
1.2 [no object] Become or appear worse in quality: his relationship with Anne did suffer
More example sentences
  • You need hundreds of megabytes of spare disk space to store your movie, you can't use a Mac and if you try to enlarge the image (using a media player), picture quality suffers.
  • Graffiti is a nuisance, it lowers the tone of the neighbourhood and everybody's quality of life suffers.
  • Limiting the selection in this way ensures that the food is freshly prepared and that the chefs stick to the specialities they cook best so that neither taste nor quality suffers.
be impaired, be damaged, deteriorate, fall off, decline, get worse
1.3 [no object] archaic Undergo martyrdom or execution.
Example sentences
  • If God himself underwent suffering and death as the necessary prerequisite to redemption, then how must those who follow this God act?
  • Many today, even among the leaders of the religious world, claim that Christ died a martyr's death, suffering merely for his beliefs.
  • A committed Catholic, Gibson's choice of screen roles has always veered towards suffering, sacrifice and martyrdom.
2 archaic Tolerate: France will no longer suffer the existing government
2.1 [with object and infinitive] Allow (someone) to do something: my conscience would not suffer me to accept any more
More example sentences
  • I accept that I suffered the defendant to supply heroin from my premises although I informed him on numerous occasions that I did not want him to do so.
allow, permit, let, give leave to, give assent to, sanction, give one's blessing to
informal give the green light to, give the go ahead to, give the thumbs up to, give someone/something the nod, OK


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French suffrir, from Latin sufferre, from sub- 'from below' + ferre 'to bear'.

  • The root of suffer is Latin sufferre, from sub- ‘from below, under’ and ferre ‘to bear’. As well as ‘to undergo or endure’, it can mean ‘to tolerate’, and this is the sense you are using when you say that someone does not suffer fools gladly. The expression is biblical, from the second Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.’ For related words see refer


not suffer fools gladly

Be impatient or intolerant towards people one regards as foolish or unintelligent: he was a perfectionist who didn’t suffer fools gladly
[With biblical allusion to 2 Cor. 11–19]
More example sentences
  • He admits he is impatient and doesn't suffer fools gladly, but, contrary to the impression given of him in the press, is ‘prepared to listen to people.’
  • She's very easy-going but she doesn't suffer fools gladly.
  • Naipaul, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2001, is a famously bilious traveler; he doesn't suffer fools gladly, and he never romanticizes the grim conditions and hypocrisies that he encounters.



Pronunciation: /ˈsʌf(ə)rəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • Lisa Marie Presley's ‘Now What’ is a trite but surprisingly sufferable FM rock, pop and balladry from the beneficiary of the sneer.
  • Evita, incidentally, was supposed to be three hours long, but the vivacity of musical director Penny Dodd saw it kept to a much more sufferable, even enjoyable, two hours and 20 minutes.
  • Lence has convincingly argued that ‘the injuries, the usurpations, all these were sufferable until the pernicious acts of George III threatened the very foundations of self-government.’


arthritis sufferers a deterioration in the sufferer’s condition
More example sentences
  • Emphysema is a progressive lung condition that leaves sufferers struggling for breath.
  • Yet a recent report found the impact of skin conditions on sufferers and their carers can tear lives apart.
  • Many GPs are ignorant of the condition and some dismiss sufferers as hypochondriacs.

Words that rhyme with suffer

bluffer, buffer, duffer, puffer, snuffer

Definition of suffer in:

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