sus·​te·​nance | \ ˈsə-stə-nən(t)s How to pronounce sustenance (audio) \

Definition of sustenance

1a : means of support, maintenance, or subsistence : living
2a : the act of sustaining : the state of being sustained
b : a supplying or being supplied with the necessaries of life
3 : something that gives support, endurance, or strength

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Synonyms for sustenance


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Examples of sustenance in a Sentence

Tree bark provides deer with sustenance in periods of drought. The village depends on the sea for sustenance. She draws spiritual sustenance from daily church attendance.
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Recent Examples on the Web In addition to the way-out-there hosts on Fox, Newsmax and One America News have seen fit to toss in some sustenance. Washington Post, "Fox News’s Ainsley Earhardt: ‘So many people’ are questioning election," 5 Jan. 2021 The first thing is to remember that the issues are at the most fundamental levels of our lives —sustenance and mortality. Steve West,, "Who’s keeping score? | Opinion," 17 Dec. 2020 Especially in places where indoor dining is not permitted, drive-throughs have been providing quick sustenance to everyone from doctors and nurses to Zooming workers weary of cooking. Richard Renaldi, The New Yorker, "Faces of a Fast-Food Nation," 23 Nov. 2020 Many bags are also marked with measured increments to help moms track how much sustenance their babies are receiving. Sian Babish,, "The best breast milk storage bag," 9 Oct. 2020 But if there’s ever a day to acknowledge the good deeds being done to provide those in need with just a little bit of comfort and sustenance, this may be it. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: There’s a lot of good being done out there," 25 Dec. 2020 According to its website, Meals on Wheels Atlanta served 519,000 meals in 2019, providing not only nutrition and sustenance but also human interaction and companionship. Washington Post, "Outkast’s André 3000 shines a light on food insecurity for the elderly with a quick lil’ apple pie," 18 Dec. 2020 Occupations meet safety and sustenance needs, and as such are essential tools for survival. Mary Ann Mccoll, CNN, "7 constructive ways to get through the Covid-19 pandemic," 18 Dec. 2020 Relying on animals as your sole source of sustenance is not just tough on you physically. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Good Housekeeping, "What You Need to Know About the Carnivore Diet," 14 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sustenance.' 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 sustenance

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sustenance

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from sustenir

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Time Traveler for sustenance

Time Traveler

The first known use of sustenance was in the 14th century

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Statistics for sustenance

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sustenance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce sustenance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sustenance

: something (such as food) that keeps someone or something alive
: something that gives support, help, or strength


sus·​te·​nance | \ ˈsə-stə-nəns How to pronounce sustenance (audio) \

Kids Definition of sustenance

2 : the act of supplying with the necessities of life
3 : support entry 2 sense 2 God is our sustenance in time of trouble.

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