Word of the Day : October 10, 2011

sustain

play
verb suh-STAYN

Definition

1 : to supply with sustenance : nourish

2 : to keep going

3 : to buoy up

4 : to suffer or undergo

5 : to support or prove

Did You Know?

"Sustain," "prop," "buttress," and "brace" all mean "to provide support for something or someone." "Sustain" (from Latin "sus-," meaning "up," plus "tenēre," meaning "to hold") may suggest constantly holding up or maintaining ("the floor sustains the weight of dozens of bookcases"). "Prop" often implies a tendency to fall, sink, or recede on the part of the thing being treated -- and therefore, a need for strengthening or reinforcing ("propping up the table with a packing case"). "Buttress" tends to involve strengthening, reinforcing, or stabilizing at a stress point ("buttress the economy"). "Brace" typically suggests supporting or strengthening so that the thing treated is made firm, unyielding, or rigid against pressure ("brace the shelf with an angle iron").


Examples

Some days it seemed as though the toddler barely ate enough to sustain a goldfish, whereas other days she was ravenous.

"The company has taken this extra measure in an effort to sustain vital services provided by non-profit agencies who work with customers with financial challenges that extend beyond their home payments." -- From an article in Business Wire, September 8, 2011



Word Family Quiz

What offspring of "tenēre" means "a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true"? The answer is ...


Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!