[ suh b-sist ]
/ səbˈsɪst /

verb (used without object)

to exist; continue in existence.
to remain alive; live, as on food, resources, etc.
to have existence in, or by reason of, something.
to reside, lie, or consist (usually followed by in).
  1. to have timeless or abstract existence, as a number, relation, etc.
  2. to have existence, especially independent existence.

verb (used with object)

to provide sustenance or support for; maintain.

Nearby words

  1. subsidiary ledger,
  2. subsidiary rights,
  3. subsidise,
  4. subsidize,
  5. subsidy,
  6. subsistence,
  7. subsistence allowance,
  8. subsistence farming,
  9. subsistence level,
  10. subsistence wage

Origin of subsist

1540–50; < Latin subsistere to remain, equivalent to sub- sub- + sistere to stand, make stand; see stand

Related formssub·sist·ing·ly, adverbpre·sub·sist, verb (used without object)self-sub·sist·ing, adjectivesu·per·sub·sist, verb (used without object)

Can be confusedsubside subsist Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for self-subsisting

  • The science of Real Being--of Being in se--of self-subsisting entities, is declared to be impossible.

    Christianity and Greek Philosophy|Benjamin Franklin Cocker
  • They carry their home with them, self-subsisting, self-relying.

  • One alone, the incomprehensible Author of all things, is self-subsisting in his perfect Unity.

    Lectures on Art|Washington Allston
  • Our inference of the simple from the composite is valid only of self-subsisting things.

British Dictionary definitions for self-subsisting


/ (səbˈsɪst) /

verb (mainly intr)

(often foll by on) to be sustained; manage to liveto subsist on milk
to continue in existence
(foll by in) to lie or reside by virtue (of); consist
  1. to exist as a concept or relation rather than a fact
  2. to be conceivable
(tr) obsolete to provide with support
Derived Formssubsistent, adjectivesubsister, noun

Word Origin for subsist

C16: from Latin subsistere to stand firm, from sub- up + sistere to make a stand

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-subsisting



1540s, "to exist," from Latin subsistere "to stand still or firm," (see subsistence). Meaning "to support oneself" (in a certain way) is from 1640s. Related: Subsisted; subsisting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper