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

Definition of subsist

intransitive verb

1a : to have existence : be
2 : to have or acquire the necessities of life (such as food and clothing) especially : to nourish oneself subsisting on roots, berries and grubs
3a : to hold true
b : to be logically conceivable as the subject of true statements

transitive verb

: to support with provisions

Synonyms & Antonyms for subsist



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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 In Lynch's versions, the evil Harkonnen clan appears to subsist on bloodlike purple juice that flows through the veins of their minions. Samuel Goldman, The Week, 16 Sep. 2021 Less than two months later, a $600-a-week unemployment supplement from the federal government expired, leaving Mr. Quinonez, his wife and his four children trying to subsist on a few hundred dollars a week in regular unemployment benefits. Ben Casselman, New York Times, 15 Mar. 2021 And the abundance of drinks feels like a cheeky nod to Parisian dietary tropes (our creatives quite literally live in Ennui, barely eat, and seem to subsist on coffee and wine). Jenna Adrian-diaz, Bon Appétit, 16 Nov. 2021 The big international tournaments barred professional players, which left amateurs to subsist on shoestring per diems. Emily Bobrow, WSJ, 13 Aug. 2021 His audacious independence was enabled by willful isolation, at his family’s Aix-en-Provence estate, far from the competitive milieu of Paris, where even the most adventurous of his contemporaries had to subsist on sales. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 21 June 2021 The artwork would subsist in the transaction, as ubiquitous and as ethereal as money. Jonathon Keats, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Fern keeps crossing paths with Linda May—who lost her job in 2008, found herself in emotional and economic desperation, and, with only meagre Social Security benefits to sustain her, is able to subsist only by living in a van. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2021 Record-chasing speed hikers are efficient and minimal — content to subsist on the same simple foods for months on end, charge through aches and pains and, at times, sleep in the dirt. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subsist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of subsist

1549, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for subsist

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

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Time Traveler for subsist

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The first known use of subsist was in 1549

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Statistics for subsist

Last Updated

7 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Subsist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for subsist



English Language Learners Definition of subsist

: to exist or continue to exist


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

Kids Definition of subsist

: to continue living or being They subsisted on bread and water.

More from Merriam-Webster on subsist

Nglish: Translation of subsist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subsist for Arabic Speakers


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