early 13c., "to be made to undergo, endure" (pain, death, punishment, judgment, grief), from Anglo-French suffrir, Old French sufrir, from Vulgar Latin *sufferire, variant of Latin sufferre "to bear, undergo, endure, carry or put under," from sub "up, under" (see sub-) + ferre "to carry" (see infer).
Replaced Old English þolian, þrowian. Meaning "to meekly submit to hardship" is from late 13c. That of "to undergo" (distress, suffering, etc.) is mid-14c. Meaning "to tolerate, allow" something to occur or continue is recorded from mid-13c. Related: Suffered; suffering.