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.
Recent Examples on the Web But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Nakisanze Segawa, Quartz, 8 June 2022 Growing up in a big Lebanese family in suburban Cincinnati, food was not only sustenance but a way to show love in a most personal way. Rita Nader Heikenfeld, The Enquirer, 4 June 2022 This cake was not dessert; this cake was sustenance. Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker, 30 Jan. 2022 Business Acumen Not too long ago, technology was thought of as a cost center, and the primary function of the CTO was sustenance. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 20 Jan. 2022 Meals were sustenance or a laborious burden to be eased through inventions like the frozen TV dinner and canned green beans. Felicia Campbell, The Arizona Republic, 17 Nov. 2021 Dates can be sustenance (one or two will curtail my hunger) but can also replace a sweet treat. Christian Reynoso, Los Angeles Times, 7 Oct. 2021 For Vasquez, who immigrated with his family to New Jersey at seven years old in 2002, coming home, reconnecting with family and being nourished by Dominican culture is the creative sustenance that feeds his compelling and intimate paintings. CNN, 31 Aug. 2021 Ukraine supplies 50% of the grain for the World Food Program, on which 125 million depend for sustenance. Steve Forbes, Forbes, 26 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

22 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for sustenance


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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