verb (used with object)

Nearby words

  1. susquehanna,
  2. suss,
  3. sussed,
  4. sussex,
  5. sussex spaniel,
  6. sustainability,
  7. sustainable,
  8. sustainable agriculture,
  9. sustainably,
  10. sustained yield

Origin of sustain

1250–1300; Middle English suste(i)nen < Anglo-French sustenir, Old French < Latin sustinēre to uphold, equivalent to sus- sus- + -tinēre, combining form of tenēre to hold

Related forms

Synonym study

1. See support. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sustain

British Dictionary definitions for sustain


verb (tr)

to hold up under; withstandto sustain great provocation
to undergo (an injury, loss, etc); sufferto sustain a broken arm
to maintain or prolongto sustain a discussion
to support physically from below
to provide for or give support to, esp by supplying necessitiesto sustain one's family; to sustain a charity
to keep up the vitality or courage of
to uphold or affirm the justice or validity ofto sustain a decision
to establish the truth of; confirm


music the prolongation of a note, by playing technique or electronics
Derived Forms

Word Origin for sustain

C13: via Old French from Latin sustinēre to hold up, from sub- + tenēre to hold

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 sustain



late 13c., from Old French sustenir "hold up, endure," from Latin sustinere "hold up, support, endure," from sub "up from below" (see sub-) + tenere "to hold" (see tenet). Related: Sustained; sustaining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper