• synonyms


  1. the state or fact of subsisting.
  2. the state or fact of existing.
  3. the providing of sustenance or support.
  4. means of supporting life; a living or livelihood.
  5. the source from which food and other items necessary to exist are obtained.
  6. Philosophy.
    1. existence, especially of an independent entity.
    2. the quality of having timeless or abstract existence.
    3. mode of existence or that by which a substance is individualized.
Show More

Origin of subsistence

1400–50; late Middle English < Late Latin subsistentia; see subsist, -ence
Related formsin·ter·sub·sist·ence, nounnon·sub·sist·ence, nounpre·sub·sist·ence, nounself-sub·sist·ence, noun
Can be confusedsubsidence subsistence

Synonyms for subsistence

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for self-subsistence

Historical Examples of self-subsistence

  • What mystery in its longevity, in its self-subsistence, in its self-renovation!

    Demonology and Devil-lore

    Moncure Daniel Conway

  • Faith clings to the self-subsistence of God; love does away with it.

  • The only existence of such a reality can be its own self-subsistence.

  • How to make the cares of self-subsistence agree with these exacting labors seems to me an insoluble problem in Paris.

British Dictionary definitions for self-subsistence


  1. the means by which one maintains life
  2. the act or condition of subsisting
  3. a thing that has real existence
  4. the state of being inherent
  5. philosophy an inferior mode of being ascribed to the references of general terms which do not in fact existSee also nonbeing
Show More
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for self-subsistence



early 15c., "existence, independence," from Late Latin subsistentia "substance, reality," from Latin subsistens, present participle of subsistere "stand still or firm," from sub "under, up to" (see sub-) + sistere "to assume a standing position," from stare "to stand" (see assist). Properly a loan-translation of Greek hypostasis "subsistence," literally "anything placed under." Meaning "provision of support for animal life" is from 1640s.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper