Definition of suffrage in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The right to vote in political elections.

    ‘universal adult suffrage’
    [as modifier] ‘the women's suffrage movement’
    • ‘The area of political rights involves suffrage and women's rights to run for office, or hold appointed positions of power in government.’
    • ‘In England the outbreak of war in 1914 brought about a crisis in the militant suffrage campaign.’
    • ‘General elections with universal adult suffrage were held in April 1965, with several political parties represented.’
    • ‘For a short time in 1848 it appeared that the introduction of adult male suffrage might democratize politics, but the election to create a Constituent Assembly for the Second Republic soon dispelled any such notions.’
    • ‘Finland was the first country to provide equal voting rights to women, instituting female suffrage in elections to the national parliament in 1906.’
    • ‘Political, economic, and social reforms were introduced, such as a freely elected Japanese Diet and universal adult suffrage.’
    • ‘We look back now, to the civil rights movements and the female suffrage movements and hold our head in shame at the thought that it took us too long to grant these rights.’
    • ‘She was not a great statesman; neither was she a leader of the woman suffrage movement.’
    • ‘Trinidad was granted universal adult suffrage in 1945.’
    • ‘In the spring of 1848 the radical press, political clubs, and the National Guard bubbled with activity in Paris and provincial cities as elections under universal manhood suffrage to the Constituent Assembly approached.’
    • ‘Northern male black activists understood the colonization scheme as part of the same developments that denied them political freedom and suffrage.’
    • ‘Willard and the WCTU also embraced the women's suffrage movement, advocating votes for women as a means of protecting the home and strengthening family values.’
    • ‘Successive extensions of the right to vote produced universal adult suffrage by 1928 and made the House of Commons representative of the nation.’
    • ‘Women in France, where there was virtually no suffrage movement, got the right to vote just a quarter of a century later than their British sisters - and moreover got it from the right wing, pro-Nazi Vichy government.’
    • ‘Bulgaria's 1991 constitution, which established a parliamentary republic, provides for a multiparty parliamentary system and free elections with universal adult suffrage.’
    • ‘Universal adult suffrage for everyone over 21 was finally achieved in the UK in 1928, when women between the ages of 21 and 30 secured the right to vote and the property qualification was abolished.’
    • ‘However, pressure from public opinion to broaden the suffrage was becoming too great to be resisted in the late 1870s.’
    • ‘It consisted of six points: universal male suffrage, vote by ballot, equal representation, abolition of the property qualification to sit in Parliament and payment of Members of Parliament.’
    • ‘He fought for franchise reform, but the country did not gain universal adult suffrage until 1950, almost a century later.’
    • ‘After World War II, universal adult suffrage resulted in women being grudgingly accepted as partners in the political process.’
    franchise, right to vote, voting rights, the vote, enfranchisement, ballot
    voice, say, option, choice
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic [count noun]A vote given in assent to a proposal or in favour of the election of a particular person.
      ‘the suffrages of the community’
      • ‘But it has dragged its feet on expanding suffrage for the election of officials at higher levels.’
      • ‘The Minister of State is responsible to the Prince, not to the National Council elected by a general suffrage.’
      • ‘In the final analysis, he argued, there is no right of suffrage in the election of a president.’
      • ‘They are chosen by the people, by secret suffrages, and they are discouraged from speaking with anyone in private.’
      • ‘Half of the members were to be appointed by the government and the other half to be elected on a limited suffrage.’
  • 2(in the Book of Common Prayer) the intercessory petitions pronounced by a priest in the Litany.

    • ‘These suffrages are said by way of anticipation or preparation for the collects or prayers that follow them.’
    • ‘Pray one of the sets of Suffrages on pages 97 – 98.’
    1. 2.1A series of petitions pronounced by the priest with the responses of the congregation.
    2. 2.2archaic Intercessory prayers, especially those for the dead.
      • ‘The most significant of these was of course the ability to say mass, acknowledged to be the most effective suffrage for the dead.’
      • ‘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.’


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).