Definition of subsist in English:

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Pronunciation: /səbˈsɪst/


[no object]
1Maintain or support oneself, especially at a minimal level: he subsisted on welfare and casual labour
More example sentences
  • All the Indian breeds have certain common characteristics; they are hardy, resistant to diseases, can withstand harsh ecological conditions and subsist on a low level of nutrition.
  • Up until the 1920s, in the mountain ranges of Westmoreland and south into Fayette, many small farmers subsisted on bear meat, preferable to venison, and considered by many to be juicier and better than beef.
  • The mountains, for the most part, had been ignored by the tiny seaside town that barely managed to subsist on the fish it caught each year.
survive, live, stay alive, exist, eke out an existence, endure;
support oneself, cope, manage, fare, get along, get by, get through, make (both) ends meet, make the grade, keep body and soul together, depend, rely for nourishment, feed
informal keep the wolf from the door, keep one's head above water, make out, hang on
1.1 [with object] archaic Provide sustenance for: the problem of subsisting the poor in a period of high bread prices
More example sentences
  • For him Scottish linen manufacturing and fisheries were ‘the only Means for increasing our Wealth and Numbers, the sole Fund for employing and subsisting the Poor, and our only Stock for Foreign Trade’.
  • Congress had allocated General Sherman, whose brother John was a US senator, some five hundred thousand dollars for subsisting the needy Indians under the area encompassed by his Department of the Missouri.
2chiefly Law Remain in force or effect: the court may treat a contract as still subsisting the peace subsisted between 1303 and 1324
More example sentences
  • The fiduciary relationship which subsists between solicitor and client comes to an end with the termination of the retainer.
  • The valuable consideration is evident in the competition that subsists between the corporate respondents.
  • The business, as a trading enterprise, continued to subsist as an identifiable item of property.
continue, last, persist, endure, prevail, hold out, carry on, live on, live, survive, be in existence, exist, be alive, remain, abide, linger
2.1 (subsist in) Be attributable to: the effect of genetic maldevelopment may subsist in chromosomal mutation
More example sentences
  • This history of conflict subsists in the environmental devastation caused by oil exploitation and Delta peoples' fight against faceless European and American oil corporations.
  • The film itself is not an event, but is merely another actualisation of the pure event which subsists in the actualisation.
  • Desire, Belsey continues, is not a property of the mind or the body but subsists in the gap between the two, deconstructing the Cartesian opposition between mind and body and destabilizing the difference between them.
lie, reside, have its being, be inherent, rest, dwell, abide, be present, inhere;
be attributable to, be ascribable to, be intrinsic to
rare indwell



Example sentences
  • They are imprisoned within their subsistent lives.
  • But for St. Thomas the soul is no mere form as in shape; it is a subsistent being, requiring a special creation by God and capable of existing independently of the human animal body.
  • Towns and villages were very different to the way they are today - years ago a rural community could be almost entirely subsistent, so a fox or other predator could pose a real threat to the livelihood of the villagers.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'continue to exist'): from Latin subsistere 'stand firm', from sub- 'from below' + sistere 'set, stand'.

Words that rhyme with subsist

assist, cist, coexist, consist, cyst, desist, enlist, exist, gist, grist, hist, insist, list, Liszt, mist, persist, resist, schist, tryst, twist, whist, wist, wrist

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sub|sist

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