On the first page of the New York Times, above the fold, is a poignant photo of graffiti on the wall outside the building housing the artists’ colony called the “Ghost Ship” that burned trapping about 33 people to their deaths.
One sign said, “Lord, please end the sufferage” whch led me to think of the line from Princess Bride where Mandy Patinkin, playing the marvelous character Inigo Montoya “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”
Putting aside for a moment the pain of that shocking event, it led me to wonder if “sufferage” (with three syllables) was ever used to mean “suffering.” I went to OED but the entry was written in 1915 and hasn’t been updated. There it is defined as “Permission, approval” with this marvelous quote from 1650:
that suggests that there was a difference in spelling even in the mid-17th century.
1650 N. Ward Discolliminium 28, I will grant him as he saith, if he will hold to his spelling, that all is now united in the Sufferage of the People, though not in their Suffrage.
Suffrage (two syllables) agaiin in a non-updated 1915 OED entry notes that there is only one meaning of that word, to vote or elect. AHD also does not list any alternative to voting, agreeing with, supporting etc with the following etymology
[Middle English, intercessory prayer, from Old French, from Medieval Latin suffrāgium, from Latin, the right to vote, from suffrāgārī, to express support; see bhreg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Suffer has a second meaning of “too allow” (as in “Suffer the little children to come unto me") but has a different etymology in OED
Etymology: < Anglo-Norman suffrir, soeffrir, -er = Old French sof(f)rir , modern French souffrir , corresponding to Provençal suffrir , so- , Italian sofferire , Spanish sufrir , Portuguese sof(f)rer < popular Latin *sufferīre , for sufferre , < suf- = sub- prefix 6 + ferre to bear.
Are these two words, Suffrage and Suffer that unrelated?