Today's Word "Suffrage"

The right to vote on

Published in Vocabulary

suffrage \SEH-frij\ (noun) - 1 : The right to vote; 2 : a vote cast in deciding an issue. 3 : A short, intercessory prayer on behalf of souls departed.

"There are those that would argue that we would probably elect a better government if we extended suffrage to elementary school children."


The English word "break" (German "brechen") goes back to a Proto-Indo-European root, bhreg. The initial [bh] became [b] in English and the [g] became [k], both by regular historical change. The [bh] in Latin, however, standing at the beginning of a word as it does here, became [f], so the Latin word for "break" is "frangere," past participle "fractus," the origin of our word "fracture." With the prefix sub- "under" (the final [b] assimilating to the following [f]), this stem gave Latin suffragari "to vote." Why the connection between "break" and "vote"? The guess is that the early Romans used broken shards of pottery for casting votes.



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