[suh b-sist]
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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.
verb (used with object)
  1. to provide sustenance or support for; maintain.

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. 2018

Related Words for subsisting

breathe, be, manage, last, continue, move, remain, live, sustain, exist, endure, survive

Examples from the Web for subsisting

Contemporary Examples of subsisting

Historical Examples of subsisting

British Dictionary definitions for 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
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 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