subsistence farming


Definition of subsistence farming

1 : farming or a system of farming that provides all or almost all the goods required by the farm family usually without any significant surplus for sale
2 : farming or a system of farming that produces a minimum and often inadequate return to the farmer

called also subsistence agriculture

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from subsistence farming

subsistence farmer noun

Examples of subsistence farming in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web People scrape by on subsistence farming, jobs in small factories, welfare checks and cash flow from retirees who are moving onto the cheap, vista-blissful land. New York Times, "Faith, Freedom, Fear: Rural America’s Covid Vaccine Skeptics," 30 Apr. 2021 In a place like PNG, where the CIA says about 85% of the population lives off subsistence farming, lockdowns can be challenging. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "This country only has about 500 doctors for 9 million people. Now it's dealing with a Covid outbreak," 27 Mar. 2021 In Comitancillo, where the main source of work is subsistence farming, nearly everyone dreams of coming to the U.S., said Father Aguilon, the town priest. Elizabeth Findell, WSJ, "A Raid, Deportation and Massacre Hit Two Communities Thousands of Miles Apart," 13 Mar. 2021 In African countries, female farmers are trained to move beyond subsistence farming to production for local markets. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "How women are helping communities defeat food insecurity," 8 Mar. 2021 The traditional Shuar live primarily by foraging, hunting, fishing and subsistence farming. Gretchen Reynolds, Star Tribune, "What children of the Amazon can teach us about weight gain," 4 Mar. 2021 In Zabarmari, villagers struggle to eke out a living through subsistence farming and fishing. Ismail Alfa And Ruth Maclean New York Times, Star Tribune, "Nigerian farmers stuck in deadly trap: militants or Army?," 10 Dec. 2020 The majority of the region's inhabitants are Miskito, who live through subsistence farming or fishing, Jarquin said. The Associated Press,, "Eta lashes Nicaragua with rains, deadly mudslides; could reach Florida next week," 4 Nov. 2020 The majority of the region’s inhabitants are Miskito, who live through subsistence farming or fishing, Jarquin said. Fox News, "Tropical Storm Eta lashes Nicaragua with rains, deadly mudslides," 3 Nov. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of subsistence farming

1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subsistence farming

Time Traveler for subsistence farming

Time Traveler

The first known use of subsistence farming was in 1892

See more words from the same year

Statistics for subsistence farming

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subsistence farming.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on subsistence farming Encyclopedia article about subsistence farming

Comments on subsistence farming

What made you want to look up subsistence farming? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!