Definition of subsistence
1a (1) : real being : existence (2) : the condition of remaining in existence : continuation, persistenceb : an essential characteristic quality of something that existsc : the character possessed by whatever is logically conceivable
2 : means of subsisting: such asa : the minimum (as of food and shelter) necessary to support lifeb : a source or means of obtaining the necessities of life
subsistentplay \-tənt\ adjective
Examples of subsistence in a Sentence
They depended on hunting and fishing for subsistence.
Farming is their means of subsistence.
Recent Examples of subsistence from the Web
At High Country News, Julia O’Malley visits Gambell, Alaska, a community that relies on subsistence hunting for survival.
Of course, plenty of poverty remains—most people in Myanmar are still subsistence farmers—but the region’s economic trends are promising.
All along the peninsula, peasants who have been eking out a meager existence by subsistence farming and fishing say they’ve been left to fend for themselves amid a painfully slow recovery, and in the midst of another hurricane season.
Mining is a common alternative to subsistence farming in this impoverished country.
In the mid-1990s a couple of green sturgeon were caught in a subsistence net on the Naknek beach.
Kasai in particular is deeply impoverished, with most of the population relying on subsistence farming.
A young Saddam, the story went, was ambitious and desperate to escape his stepfather’s abuse and a dismal future as a subsistence farmer in the dusty and violent backwater of Awja.
When there is enough rainfall, most people, even those who live below the International Poverty Line as stipulated by the World Bank ($1.90 a-day), are able to feed themselves with subsistence farming.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subsistence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of subsistence
Middle English, from Late Latin subsistentia, from subsistent-, subsistens, present participle of subsistere
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
SUBSISTENCE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of subsistence for English Language Learners
: the amount of food, money, etc., that is needed to stay alive
SUBSISTENCE Defined for Kids
Definition of subsistence for Students
: the smallest amount (as of food and clothing) necessary to support life
Seen and Heard
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