Definition of sufferance in US English:



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

    ‘Charles was only here on sufferance’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He is the agent of foreign interests that have no standing in court, and does business on sufferance, continuing only until challenged.’
    • ‘Anyway - the ‘lady members’ are very much there on sufferance.’
    • ‘If her marriage breaks down, she can now return to her birth home by right, and not on the sufferance of relatives.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Refugees still entered Britain after that, but on sufferance, rather than as a right.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Consequently, religion remained the chief stuff of politics and the Anglican elite to an important extent ruled on sufferance.’
    • ‘The shops stay open till all hours, the ostarias cater for families and, on sufferance, for tourists too.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was offered a two-month anger management program that he attended under sufferance.’
    • ‘For all its vaunted power, judicial supremacy exists at the sufferance of the people.’
    • ‘First, it's not really yours if it can be used only at the sufferance of the Social Security administration.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whether mutual repugnance might then one day be transformed into mutual sufferance, or even mutual toleration, remains to be seen.’
    • ‘The United Kingdom was quite aware that its colony existed at the sufferance of China.’
    • ‘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.’’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A tenancy on sufferance is not a true tenancy and there is no agreement which would come within the section.’
      • ‘This lesson in landlord-tenant law addresses the tenancy at sufferance, also known as the estate at sufferance.’
      authority, authorization, sanction, covenant, dispensation, consent, permission
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    2. 1.2archaic Patient endurance.
      • ‘Novelty by its nature is a limited sentiment and Inverness must already regard their new environment with wearisome sufferance.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.’
    • ‘For sufferance now will be rewarded greatly in the Reconciliation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My appreciation of lone living is borne of great sufferance.’
    • ‘Pain, like everything else, is a sufferance, impermanent and non-existent.’


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