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This week's theme: words that aren't what they appear to be.

sufferance (SUF-uhr-uhns, SUF-ruhns) noun

1. Passive tolerance: by the absence of objection rather than by express permission.

2. Capacity to endure pain, misery, etc.

[Via French from Latin sufferentia, from sufferre (to suffer), from sub- + ferre (to bear). Ultimately from Indo-European root bher- (to carry; to bear children) that gave birth to words such as basket, suffer, fertile, burden, bring, bear, offer, prefer, and birth.]

See more usage examples of sufferance in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

Parents often let children do things on sufferance, by tolerating their antics. It's useful when there is a need to withdraw that tacit permission: "Yes, I let you go to the theme park but I never said you could go bungee jumping."

"Government exists at the sufferance of the taxpayer and are paid for with money earned by working men and women."
SD, ANC Bond as Old as History; The Swazi Observer (Mbabane, Swaziland); Oct 3, 2005.


Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. -Ernest Hemingway, author and journalist, Nobel laureate (1899-1961)

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