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

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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 Both Senkler and Petersen pointed out that a parasitic lifestyle and slow growth could enable mistletoes to subsist on low amounts of ATP. Quanta Magazine, "The Mystery of Mistletoe’s Missing Genes," 21 Dec. 2020 Because of her versatility, Sutton never lacked for work in an industry in which many actors subsist on unemployment. John Pope,, "Carol Sutton, 'mesmerizing' New Orleans actress for half century, dies at 76," 11 Dec. 2020 The payments are often an acknowledgment that civilian victims are frequently family breadwinners — in a country where 90 percent of the population is estimated to subsist below the poverty line, with little or no official economic safety net. Najim Rahim, New York Times, "How an Afghan Political Crisis Derailed Payments to War Victims," 27 Oct. 2020 People who were forced by debt to live in the poorhouse had to subsist on six and half pounds a year, paid from parish taxes. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, "How to Misread Jane Austen," 28 Sep. 2020 Not all business owners will be so fortunate, especially those working with independent landlords who may not be able to subsist if their tenants do not pay rent in full. Washington Post, "Sputtering summer sales, dwindling federal aid cripples D.C.’s small businesses," 9 Sep. 2020 The catch: a 36-foot, 1-inch, young male bowhead that community members will subsist on over the next year. Jenna Kunze, Anchorage Daily News, "Teenager helps land Utqiagvik’s first whale of fall season," 4 Sep. 2020 Artis Scott was born some half a century after the culmination of the Civil War, forced to leave the third grade to subsist on picking cotton. Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner, "Tim Scott's American Dream: The grandson of a cotton picker knows how far we've come," 24 Aug. 2020 Social worker Vincent Gonzalez, 33, ended his strike earlier this month after losing more than 30 pounds while relying on electrolyte powder to subsist on 50 calories a day. Washington Post, "As Breonna Taylor protests stretch into 12th week, calls for officers’ arrests intensify," 19 Aug. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of subsist was in 1549

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Statistics for subsist

Cite this Entry

“Subsist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for subsist



English Language Learners Definition of subsist

formal : 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.

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