See more synonyms for sustain on
verb (used with object)
  1. to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure.
  2. to bear (a burden, charge, etc.).
  3. to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.
  4. to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, as under trial or affliction.
  5. to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.
  6. to supply with food, drink, and other necessities of life.
  7. to provide for (an institution or the like) by furnishing means or funds.
  8. to support (a cause or the like) by aid or approval.
  9. to uphold as valid, just, or correct, as a claim or the person making it: The judge sustained the lawyer's objection.
  10. to confirm or corroborate, as a statement: Further investigation sustained my suspicions.

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 formssus·tain·a·ble, adjectivesus·tain·ed·ly [suh-stey-nid-lee, -steynd-] /səˈsteɪ nɪd li, -ˈsteɪnd-/, adverbsus·tain·ing·ly, adverbsus·tain·ment, nounnon·sus·tained, adjectivenon·sus·tain·ing, adjectivepre·sus·tained, adjectiveun·sus·tained, adjectiveun·sus·tain·ing, adjectivewell-sus·tained, adjective

Synonyms for sustain

See more synonyms for on
1. carry. 3. bear. 5. maintain.

Synonym study

1. See support. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sustaining

Contemporary Examples of sustaining

Historical Examples of sustaining

  • This would be a sustaining capacity of 48 pounds per horsepower.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • Power of sustentation; the quality of sustaining a weight in the air.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • They might have fancied they were sustaining a siege, so great were the noise and the discomfort.

    Doctor Pascal

    Emile Zola

  • It was like the exhaustion of a battery, the collapse of the sustaining power.

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • The great point is not to fail in ordering and sustaining the effort of our life.

    A Set of Six

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for sustaining


verb (tr)
  1. to hold up under; withstandto sustain great provocation
  2. to undergo (an injury, loss, etc); sufferto sustain a broken arm
  3. to maintain or prolongto sustain a discussion
  4. to support physically from below
  5. to provide for or give support to, esp by supplying necessitiesto sustain one's family; to sustain a charity
  6. to keep up the vitality or courage of
  7. to uphold or affirm the justice or validity ofto sustain a decision
  8. to establish the truth of; confirm
  1. music the prolongation of a note, by playing technique or electronics
Derived Formssustained, adjectivesustainedly (səˈsteɪnɪdlɪ), adverbsustaining, adjectivesustainingly, adverbsustainment, noun

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 sustaining



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