late 14c., "intercessory prayers or pleas on behalf of another," from Old French sofrage "plea, intercession" (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin suffragium, from Latin suffragium "support, ballot, vote; right of voting; a voting tablet," from suffragari "lend support, vote for someone," conjectured to be a compound of sub "under" (see sub-) + fragor "crash, din, shouts (as of approval)," related to frangere "to break" (from PIE root *bhreg- "to break"). On another theory (Watkins, etc.) the second element is frangere itself and the notion is "use a broken piece of tile as a ballot" (compare ostracism).
The meaning "a vote for or against anything" is from 1530s. The meaning "political right to vote" in English is first found in the U.S. Constitution, 1787.
suffragette. A more regrettable formation than others such as leaderette & flannelette, in that it does not even mean a sort of suffrage as they mean a sort of leader & of flannel, & therefore tends to vitiate the popular conception of the termination's meaning. The word itself may now be expected to die, having lost its importance; may its influence on word-making die with it! [Fowler, 1926]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to break."
It forms all or part of: anfractuous; Brabant; bracken; brake (n.1) "stopping device for a wheel;" brake (n.2) "kind of fern;" brash; breach; break; breccia; breeches; brioche; chamfer; defray; diffraction; fractal; fraction; fractious; fracture; fragile; fragility; fragment; frail; frangible; infraction; infringe; irrefragable; irrefrangible; naufragous; ossifrage; refract; refraction; refrain (n.); refrangible; sassafras; saxifrage; suffragan; suffrage.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit (giri)-bhraj "breaking-forth (out of the mountains);" Latin frangere "to break (something) in pieces, shatter, fracture;" Lithuanian braškėti "crash, crack;" Old Irish braigim "break wind;" Gothic brikan, Old English brecan "to break."
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "under," also "up from under," hence "over."
It forms all or part of: above; assume; Aufklarung; eave; eavesdropper; hyphen; hypo-; hypochondria; hypocrisy; hypotenuse; hypothalamus; hypothesis; hypsi-; hypso-; opal; open; oft; often; resuscitate; somber; souffle; source; soutane; souvenir; sub-; subject; sublime; subpoena; substance; subterfuge; subtle; suburb; succeed; succinct; succor; succubus; succumb; sudden; suffer; sufficient; suffix; suffrage; suggestion; summon; supine; supple; supply; support; suppose; surge; suspect; suspend; sustain; up; up-; Upanishad; uproar; valet; varlet; vassal.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit upa "near, under, up to, on," Greek hypo "under," Latin sub "under, below," Gothic iup, Old Norse, Old English upp "up, upward," Hittite up-zi "rises."
1839 in English political history, in reference to the reform party active 1836-48, from "The People's Charter," which contained their principles (universal suffrage, abolition of the property qualification for serving in Parliament, equal representation, etc.). Related: Chartist (1838).