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


aliment, food, nourishment, pabulum

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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

But algae also provide coral with their primary source of food and sustenance. Michael Wilner,, "Trump administration throws cold water on climate change threat to Florida’s coral reefs," 10 Aug. 2019 But algae also provide coral with their primary source of food and sustenance., "Trump administration throws cold water on climate change threat to coral reefs in Florida," 9 Aug. 2019 Running around a stadium dressed as a seal requires sustenance. Rachel Levin,, "The Usual: How Lou Seal became a staple at a San Francisco sandwich shop," 9 Aug. 2019 Yet this sweet and circular version of the American Dream offered hope and sustenance to thousands of donut-shop owners and their families. The Economist, "How donuts fuelled the American Dream," 26 July 2019 Just a regular old kitchen in which those who are hungry can rummage in the fridge for sustenance. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "The Big Little Lie of the TV kitchen island," 1 Aug. 2019 African people have long hunted bats, monkeys, rats, snakes, and other wild animals for sustenance. Jani Actman, National Geographic, "What is bushmeat?," 19 June 2019 But animal rights groups dismiss the rationale that these animals are hunted to provide sustenance. Ines Novacic, CBS News, ""Bred simply to be shot": Inside America's exotic hunting industry," 9 June 2019 Food containing gluten remains a staple of the human diet around the world, providing sustenance to billions. Douglas G. Adler, Discover Magazine, "The Grim Origins of 'Gluten-Free'," 16 May 2019

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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Statistics for sustenance

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sustenance

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

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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.

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Comments on sustenance

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