[ suhb-sis-tuhnt ]
/ səbˈsɪs tənt /
Save This Word!

subsisting, existing, or continuing in existence.
inherent: subsistent qualities of character.
Philosophy. something that exists necessarily as opposed to contingent existence in space and time.
"Is" it time for a new quiz? "Are" you ready? Then prove your excellent skills on using "is" vs. "are."
Question 1 of 7
IS and ARE are both forms of which verb?

Origin of subsistent

1520–30; <Latin subsistent- (stem of subsistēns), present participle of subsistere to remain; see subsist, -ent


non·sub·sist·ent, adjectivepre·sub·sist·ent, adjectiveself-sub·sist·ent, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does subsistent mean?

Subsistent describes existing or continuing to live.

Subsistent is generally used to describe something that continues but doesn’t grow or get better. Something that is subsistent is barely enough, as in We grow all our own food, but we can only grow a subsistent amount.

Subsistent also describes something that is inherent or built-in, such as our need to breathe in order to acquire oxygen. You may hear discussions about aspects of life or industries as being subsistent, meaning they are unavoidable. For example, grief is a subsistent part of life.

Example: Some cultures were subsistent simply on farming and foraging.

Where does subsistent come from?

The first records of the term subsistent come from around the 1520s. It comes from the Latin subsistere, meaning “to remain.”

In discussions of philosophy, subsistent is used to mean “something that exists separate from space and time.” This idea was largely developed by the Christian philosopher Thomas Aquinas, who proposed that the soul was subsistent and that after death it continued to exist separate from the body outside of normal space.

In some fields of abstract philosophy, such as ontology, something that is subsistent is said to be real even if it does not exist. While the theory of subsistent objects is very complex and requires extensive knowledge, a simplified example is that a unicorn, which does not exist, still subsists because humans can think about a unicorn as an object.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to subsistent?

  • nonsubsistent (adjective)
  • presubsistent (adjective)
  • self-subsistent (adjective)

What are some words that share a root or word element with subsistent

What are some words that often get used in discussing subsistent?

How is subsistent used in real life?

Subsistent is most commonly used in discussions about what a person needs to live.



Try using subsistent!

True or False?

A subsistent amount of food is just enough food to live on.

How to use subsistent in a sentence