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

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 Dawn Noren, a biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explained that female orcas require 25 percent more sustenance during pregnancy, and nearly double after birth. Washington Post, 15 July 2021 Your kind words of gratitude are like sustenance, quelling a hunger and keeping us moving forward. William Arruda, Forbes, 21 Dec. 2021 For thousands of years, Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwa, Assiniboine, Nakota and Dakota people on the trail of migrating bison found sustenance and shelter at the fertile confluence of the South Saskatchewan River and Opimihaw Creek. Diane Selkirk, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Nov. 2021 Why not surround ourselves with reminders of the natural world that sustains us and provides sustenance? Dana Mcmahan, The Courier-Journal, 3 Nov. 2021 Reinke also is charged with depriving nearly all the horses of necessary sustenance, and failing to provide a sufficient quantity of nutritious food and necessary veterinary care, according to court documents. Kristen Griffith,, 3 Nov. 2021 Beck brings her own energies and sustenance to the piece, which, alas, has cut back its run to just two weeks, presumably having failed to sell enough tickets. Chris Jones,, 28 Oct. 2021 The stakes are high in Narok county, where residents say frequent dry spells have meant substantially smaller harvests for farmers, who often depend on their crops for sustenance as well as a living. Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2021 Saafir hopes to expand on the legacy of Hasan and other elders while drawing in a youthful generation seeking spiritual sustenance and political guidance. Los Angeles Times, 17 Sep. 2021

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near sustenance

sustain pedal



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Statistics for sustenance

Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sustenance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for sustenance



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.

More from Merriam-Webster on sustenance

Nglish: Translation of sustenance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sustenance for Arabic Speakers


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