Cultural Watch

The Word of the Day – suffrage


Suffrage / SUHF-rij / noun


1. The right to vote, especially in a political election.
2. A vote given in favor of a proposed measure, candidate, or the like.


… perhaps the most powerful of the causes which tend to mitigate the violence of political associations in the United States is universal suffrage. In countries in which universal suffrage exists, the majority is never doubtful, because neither party can reasonably pretend to represent that portion of the community which has not voted.
— Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859), Democracy in America, translated by Henry Reeve, 1938


Suffrage comes from the Latin noun suffrāgium meaning “voting tablet, vote,” which is a derivative of the verb suffrāgārī , “to vote for, support.” When it entered English in the late 1300s, it originally meant “intercession or prayers (for someone).” By the time of St. Thomas More in the early 1500s, the word had acquired the sense of “a vote in favor of a motion,” gradually coming to mean “collective vote, voting power.” Its current sense “the right to vote” first appears in the U.S. Constitution (1789).

Source: Get the Word of the Day – suffrage |