[suh-stey-nuh-buh l]


capable of being supported or upheld, as by having its weight borne from below.
pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse: sustainable agriculture. Aquaculture is a sustainable alternative to overfishing.
able to be maintained or kept going, as an action or process: a sustainable negotiation between the two countries.
able to be confirmed or upheld: a sustainable decision.
able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds: a sustainable life.

Origin of sustainable

Related formssus·tain·a·bil·i·ty, nounnon·sus·tain·a·ble, adjectivenon·sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty, nounun·sus·tain·a·ble, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sustainable

Contemporary Examples of sustainable

Historical Examples of sustainable

  • It sounds crazy, and only time will tell whether it proves to be sustainable.


    Cory Doctorow

  • This year, we must also do more to support democratic renewal and human rights and sustainable development all around the world.

  • Niebuhrs inference against a blood connection from Ciceros definition is not sustainable.

    Ancient Society

    Lewis Henry Morgan

British Dictionary definitions for sustainable



capable of being sustained
(of economic development, energy sources, etc) capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damagesustainable development
(of economic growth) non-inflationary
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 sustainable

1610s, "bearable," from sustain + -able. Attested from 1845 in the sense "defensible;" from 1965 with the meaning "capable of being continued at a certain level." Sustainable growth is recorded from 1965. Related: Sustainably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper