sub·​sist səb-ˈsist How to pronounce subsist (audio)
subsisted; subsisting; subsists

intransitive verb

: to have existence : be
: to have or acquire the necessities of life (such as food and clothing)
especially : to nourish oneself
subsisting on roots, berries and grubs
: to hold true
: to be logically conceivable as the subject of true statements

transitive verb

: to support with provisions

Examples of subsist in a Sentence

The author's right to royalties shall subsist for the term of the copyright. a love that was as great as any that ever did subsist
Recent Examples on the Web The ration books that allow Cubans to buy small quantities of basic goods like rice, beans, eggs, and sugar each month for payment equivalent to a few U.S. cents continue to be the basis of the model, allowing families to subsist for about 15 days. Andrea Rodríguez, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Nov. 2023 Experts sympathetic to the plight of the Miskito say the law could be interpreted to grant them asylum, based perhaps on the Indigenous group’s inability to subsist after their land was ravaged by hurricanes and seized by drug traffickers. Miriam Jordan, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 Where her business once subsisted solely on corporate projects, Testa is now getting an increasing number of requests from people who want large-scale floral installations outside their homes. Mia Mercado, Curbed, 13 Oct. 2023 And Cleveland must subsist for 15 more games -- ideally a few more -- without their best player and offensive heartbeat. Jimmy Watkins, cleveland, 18 Sep. 2023 Johnnie Ticket grew up subsisting and fishing and took his children out to pick berries and greens from the land, always making sure the family had food on the table and wood to stay warm, Tillie Ticket said. Alena Naiden, Anchorage Daily News, 28 July 2023 Titanosaurs subsisted mostly on plants and vegetation, using their long necks to eat everything from shorter plants on the ground to leaves on top of trees. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 8 Aug. 2023 The images of floodwaters in the Tulare Lake Basin are in stark contrast to the nearly bone-dry lake that subsisted off minimal precipitation for several years on end, and the change happened fast. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 30 June 2023 Izumi, who narrates the story, seems to be at the mercy of strange appetites: peeling and eating stucco off the walls, shoplifting foods from the convenience store, subsisting off sweets like preserves and madeleines from the Shoppers’ Co-op. Dennis Zhou, The New Yorker, 3 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'subsist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Late Latin subsistere to exist, from Latin, to come to a halt, remain, from sub- + sistere to come to a stand; akin to Latin stare to stand — more at stand

First Known Use

1549, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of subsist was in 1549

Dictionary Entries Near subsist

Cite this Entry

“Subsist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


sub·​sist səb-ˈsist How to pronounce subsist (audio)
: to have or continue to have existence : be, persist
: to have or get the necessities of life (as food and clothing)
especially : to nourish oneself
subsisting on roots and berries

More from Merriam-Webster on subsist

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