• synonyms


[suh b-sist]
verb (used without object)
  1. to exist; continue in existence.
  2. to remain alive; live, as on food, resources, etc.
  3. to have existence in, or by reason of, something.
  4. to reside, lie, or consist (usually followed by in).
  5. Philosophy.
    1. to have timeless or abstract existence, as a number, relation, etc.
    2. to have existence, especially independent existence.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to provide sustenance or support for; maintain.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for self-subsisting

Historical Examples of self-subsisting

  • They carry their home with them, self-subsisting, self-relying.

    From Capetown to Ladysmith

    G. W. Steevens

  • 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

  • Our inference of the simple from the composite is valid only of self-subsisting things.

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

    Lectures on Art

    Washington Allston

British Dictionary definitions for self-subsisting


verb (mainly intr)
  1. (often foll by on) to be sustained; manage to liveto subsist on milk
  2. to continue in existence
  3. (foll by in) to lie or reside by virtue (of); consist
  4. philosophy
    1. to exist as a concept or relation rather than a fact
    2. to be conceivable
  5. (tr) obsolete to provide with support
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper