[suhs-tuh-nuh ns]


means of sustaining life; nourishment.
means of livelihood.
the process of sustaining.
the state of being sustained.

Origin of sustenance

1250–1300; Middle English sustena(u)nce < Anglo-French; Old French sostenance. See sustain, -ance
Related formssus·te·nance·less, adjectivenon·sus·te·nance, nounself-sus·te·nance, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for self-sustenance

autonomy, self-reliance, independence, self-support, self-sustenance

Examples from the Web for self-sustenance

Historical Examples of self-sustenance

  • Though she was always pale in colour and frail looking, there was within her a great power of self-sustenance.

    Orley Farm

    Anthony Trollope

  • Besides, she was not sure that she was really face to face again with the bitter problem of self-sustenance.

    Sister Carrie

    Theodore Dreiser

  • Perhaps they suffer less than their white sisters, who have more aspiration and refinement, with little power of self-sustenance.

    At Home And Abroad

    Margaret Fuller Ossoli

British Dictionary definitions for self-sustenance



means of sustaining health or life; nourishment
means of maintenance; livelihood
Also: sustention (səˈstɛnʃən) the act or process of sustaining or the quality of being sustained

Word Origin for sustenance

C13: from Old French sostenance, from sustenir to sustain
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-sustenance



c.1300, "means of living, subsistence, livelihood," from Old French sustenance (French soutenance), from Late Latin sustinentia "endurance," from Latin sustinens, present participle of sustinere (see sustain). Meaning "action of sustaining life by food" is from late 14c. Sense of "nourishment" is recorded from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper