Definition of sufferance in English:



mass noun
  • 1Absence of objection rather than genuine approval; toleration.

    ‘Charles was only here on sufferance’
    • ‘On the show, Logan joins the major case squad on sufferance after a long, punitive stint on Staten Island, where he was exiled after taking a swing at a city councilman.’
    • ‘The magic of this last sentence is that the very notion of immigrant, a distinction between those who belong and those who are allowed in on sufferance, makes no sense either in the abstract or in space and time.’
    • ‘Bulgaria claims to want foreign investment, but makes residents aliens feel as though they are here on sufferance rather than making an addition to the country's depleted population and being good consumers.’
    • ‘If that is too abstract an observation then there is the simpler truth of politics: Britain is a middle class country and all parties now hold office on the sufferance of the bourgeoisie.’
    • ‘Whether mutual repugnance might then one day be transformed into mutual sufferance, or even mutual toleration, remains to be seen.’
    • ‘It would be a tiny reminder that other people with beliefs hostile to mine own this country, and that I'm here at their sufferance.’
    • ‘For all its vaunted power, judicial supremacy exists at the sufferance of the people.’
    • ‘To the extent that a ‘right’ exists only at the sufferance of the state itself, it scarcely deserves to be called a ‘right’ at all.’
    • ‘The Dalit students' experience of university life is one of being admitted only on sufferance.’
    • ‘The shops stay open till all hours, the ostarias cater for families and, on sufferance, for tourists too.’
    • ‘He was offered a two-month anger management program that he attended under sufferance.’
    • ‘Anyway - the ‘lady members’ are very much there on sufferance.’
    • ‘First, it's not really yours if it can be used only at the sufferance of the Social Security administration.’
    • ‘She said: ‘We do not want to let the village down but when we close the shop, the post offices is here on sufferance as a service to the village.’’
    • ‘The United Kingdom was quite aware that its colony existed at the sufferance of China.’
    • ‘If her marriage breaks down, she can now return to her birth home by right, and not on the sufferance of relatives.’
    • ‘Refugees still entered Britain after that, but on sufferance, rather than as a right.’
    • ‘Visitors to some of the more offbeat historic houses can sometimes get the impression that they are there on sufferance, rather than being truly welcomed.’
    • ‘Consequently, religion remained the chief stuff of politics and the Anglican elite to an important extent ruled on sufferance.’
    • ‘He is the agent of foreign interests that have no standing in court, and does business on sufferance, continuing only until challenged.’
    mercifulness, mercy, clemency, lenity, forgiveness
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    1. 1.1Law The condition of the holder of an estate who continues to hold it after the title has ceased, without the express permission of the owner.
      ‘an estate at sufferance’
      • ‘This lesson in landlord-tenant law addresses the tenancy at sufferance, also known as the estate at sufferance.’
      • ‘A tenancy on sufferance is not a true tenancy and there is no agreement which would come within the section.’
      • ‘At common law the tenant at sufferance was in a very precarious position, because the landlord was able to recover possession of the premises, even by force.’
      authority, authorization, sanction, covenant, dispensation, consent, permission
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    2. 1.2archaic Patient endurance.
      • ‘But, I submit to you that not only is blood required, but so are dedication, common sense, frugality, honor and sufferance, to name a few.’
      • ‘Novelty by its nature is a limited sentiment and Inverness must already regard their new environment with wearisome sufferance.’
      patience, forbearance, tolerance, stoicism, endurance, fortitude, lack of protest, lack of complaint, acceptance of the inevitable, fatalism, acceptance, acquiescence, compliance, passivity, passiveness, non-resistance, submission, docility, phlegm
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  • 2archaic The suffering or undergoing of something bad or unpleasant.

    • ‘William wouldn't wish such a terrible sufferance upon his worst enemy.’
    • ‘The only solution she seems to find for making her sufferance end is death, even though she is pregnant and has a child who simply adores her.’
    • ‘Pain, like everything else, is a sufferance, impermanent and non-existent.’
    • ‘For sufferance now will be rewarded greatly in the Reconciliation.’
    • ‘My appreciation of lone living is borne of great sufferance.’


Middle English (in sufferance (sense 2)): from Anglo-Norman French suffraunce, from late Latin sufferentia, from sufferre (see suffer).