Definition of sustain in English:


Line breaks: sus|tain
Pronunciation: /səˈsteɪn


[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, succour, support, give strength to, be a source of strength to, be a tower of strength to, buoy up, carry, cheer up, hearten, see someone through
    informal buck up
  • 1.1Bear (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, bolster, underpin, buttress
  • 2Undergo or suffer (something unpleasant, especially an injury): he sustained 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.


[mass noun] Music Back to top  
  • An effect or facility on a keyboard or electronic instrument whereby a note can be sustained after the key is released.
    More 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.



More 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.


More 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'.

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