Definition of suffragette noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˌsʌfrəˈdʒet//
; NAmE NAmE//ˌsʌfrəˈdʒet//
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a member of a group of women who, in Britain and the US in the early part of the 20th century, worked to get the right for women to vote in political elections CulturesuffragettesThe US has had major campaigns to win suffrage (= the right to vote in political elections) for two groups of people: women and African Americans. But the word suffrage is more closely associated with women's voting rights, and the women who took part in the movement were often called suffragettes. Today, most people in the US use the word suffragists, as it also includes the men who supported the movement.The suffrage movement became important in the US in the second half of the 19th century. As early as 1848 a meeting was held in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss the issue. But only in 1920 was the US Constitution changed to give women the right to vote. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution is sometimes called the Anthony Amendment, after Susan B Anthony, who was an important suffragist.In the late 19th and early 20th century women in Britain also began to demand the right to vote. After several bills promising them suffrage were defeated in Parliament, British suffragettes turned to violent protest. As well as holding noisy public meetings they chained themselves to iron railings and broke windows of government buildings. One suffragette, Emily Davison, threw herself in front of the king's horse during a race at Epsom and died from her injuries. When suffragettes were put in prison many of them went on hunger strike (= refused to eat anything), so that the authorities had to force food into them to keep them alive. Leaders of the campaign, such as Emmeline Pankhurst, the head of the Women's Social and Political Union, and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, were imprisoned on many occasions under the terms of the so-called Cat and Mouse Act of 1913, which allowed the women out of prison just long enough for them to get well before they were imprisoned again. The campaign was interrupted in 1914 at the start of World War I, so that women could contribute to the war effort. When the war ended in 1918 the government at last agreed to give the vote to women over 30, partly in recognition of their role in the war. Finally, in 1928, women won equal voting rights with men and were allowed to vote from the age of 21.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: suffragette