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



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

  1. (intransitive) To undergo hardship.
  2. (intransitive) To feel pain.
    At least he didn't suffer when he died in the car crash.
  3. (intransitive) To become worse.
    If you keep partying like this, your school-work will suffer.
  4. (transitive) To endure, undergo.
    • c. 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The VVinters Tale”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals):
      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.
    I've been suffering your insults for years.
    We hope you never have to suffer the same pain.
  5. (transitive, archaic) To allow.
    • The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 203:
      "Employ" includes to suffer or permit to work.
    • Section 31-36 of the Code of Montgomery County, Maryland:
      [] it shall be unlawful for any person to cause, allow, permit or suffer any vehicle to be parked [] beyond the period of time established by the duration of the parking meter []
    • The Bible, Exodus 22:18
      Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
    • KJV, Matthew 19:14
      But Jesus said, suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.


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  1. Comparative form of suf