[suhs-tuh-nuh ns]


means of sustaining life; nourishment.
means of livelihood.
the process of sustaining.
the state of being sustained.

Origin of sustenance

1250–1300; Middle English sustena(u)nce < Anglo-French; Old French sostenance. See sustain, -ance
Related formssus·te·nance·less, adjectivenon·sus·te·nance, nounself-sus·te·nance, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sustenance

Contemporary Examples of sustenance

Historical Examples of sustenance

  • What do they do but live and suck in sustenance and grow fat?

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • We found a farmer just up, and made him give us sustenance for ourselves and our horses.

  • How can I turn to another for the sustenance which you alone can give?

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • He was paying for his own sustenance, and with the first money he had ever earned.

    The Wall Street Girl

    Frederick Orin Bartlett

  • I could not tell what sort of sustenance she would look for from my sagacity.


    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for sustenance



means of sustaining health or life; nourishment
means of maintenance; livelihood
Also: sustention (səˈstɛnʃən) the act or process of sustaining or the quality of being sustained

Word Origin for sustenance

C13: from Old French sostenance, from sustenir to sustain
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 sustenance

c.1300, "means of living, subsistence, livelihood," from Old French sustenance (French soutenance), from Late Latin sustinentia "endurance," from Latin sustinens, present participle of sustinere (see sustain). Meaning "action of sustaining life by food" is from late 14c. Sense of "nourishment" is recorded from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper