Definition of sustain in English:

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Pronunciation: /səˈstān/


[with object]
1Strengthen or support physically or mentally: this thought had sustained him throughout the years (as adjective sustaining) a sustaining breakfast of bacon and eggs
More example sentences
  • Most of all, Angela will always be grateful to the many well wishers, neighbours and friends who have supported and sustained her family throughout the years.
  • The strikers have remained defiant throughout the last year sustained by community support and collections.
  • We have been greatly encouraged and sustained by the support and prayer that we know has been going on here recently.
comfort, help, assist, encourage, succor, support, give strength to, buoy up, carry, cheer up, hearten
informal buck up
1.1Cause to continue or be prolonged for an extended period or without interruption: he cannot sustain a normal conversation
More example sentences
  • But he said the UK economy had continued to grow and had enjoyed the longest period of continuous and sustained recession-free growth for 50 years.
  • The most rapid sustained period of economic growth ever seen in an OECD country combined with many other factors to mean that the political landscape simply had to be different.
  • Political stability will be an important factor in ensuring sustained economic growth and continued international integration.
1.2(Of a performer) represent (a part or character) convincingly: he sustained the role with burly resilience
More example sentences
  • Working with Marlene Kaminsky for In Absentia was, on the other hand, very difficult since it wasn't a role where you could sustain a character.
  • The role of Ed is obviously pivotal to this play, and Adrian Rice sustained the character with a touching blend of humour, thoughtfulness and assurance.
  • The ensemble remains strong throughout the piece, and while the second Act may be overlong, the performers sustain their focus with dexterity and integrity.
1.3Bear (the weight of an object) without breaking or falling: he sagged against her so that she could barely sustain his weight figurative his health will no longer enable him to sustain the heavy burdens of office
More example sentences
  • Some of them barely looked capable of sustaining the weight; you could almost see their legs wobbling with the strain.
  • Their little wobbly legs barely sustaining their weight.
  • The traditional view of sauropods was that they were barely able to sustain their own weight and therefore lived in swamps.
bear, support, carry, stand, keep up, prop up, shore up, underpin
2Undergo or suffer (something unpleasant, especially an injury): he died after sustaining severe head injuries
More example sentences
  • Wong suffered slight hand injuries while Cheung sustained head wounds.
  • Mayo suffered a big blow the first as their centre half-back sustained a severe injury resulting in her now being able to line out on Sunday August 31.
  • Up to November 2003, 27 people died in separate accidents, 221 sustained severe injuries.
3Uphold, affirm, or confirm the justice or validity of: the allegations of discrimination were sustained
More example sentences
  • In my respectful view, the evidentiary predicate required to sustain the order that the applicants stand trial was present.
  • Now, with all due respect, as I understand it, it is the Court's role to ultimately sustain justice in all cases that are before the Court.
  • In the absence of such evidence, a finding of discrimination could not be sustained.
uphold, validate, ratify, vindicate, confirm, endorse;
verify, corroborate, substantiate, bear out, prove, authenticate, back up, evidence, justify


An effect or facility on a keyboard or electronic instrument whereby a note can be sustained after the key is released.
Example sentences
  • She has a decent voice, but it was her sustain on the more difficult notes that really impressed.
  • Some guitarists prefer diode clipping, along with the gain required for ultimate sustain.
  • Compressing a rock ballad 3 to 4 dB on peaks, the result was intoxicatingly creamy and bold, with beautiful density and sustain.



Example sentences
  • Expand the below-the-zone promotion rate for sustainers to accommodate larger numbers of highly creative thinkers and doers.
  • Although these things are vastly impressive and look great on our resume, they are ‘pride sustainers;’ points made to solidify our warm feeling for the school.
  • In order to put the time and energy necessary into our continuing publication, we need the help of readers, content contributors, and financial sustainers.


Example sentences
  • There are going to be very high casualties and you need tremendous sustainment both in terms of ammunition and reserves of manpower.
  • During deployment, leaders should establish sustainment and cross-training plans on platoon organic weapons.
  • This process continues into employment and sustainment and can be observed for the other blocks in the planning and execution process.


Middle English: from Old French soustenir, from Latin sustinere, from sub- 'from below' + tenere 'hold'.

Words that rhyme with sustain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sus·tain

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