"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[suh b-sis-tuh ns] /səbˈsɪs təns/
the state or fact of subsisting.
the state or fact of existing.
the providing of sustenance or support.
means of supporting life; a living or livelihood.
the source from which food and other items necessary to exist are obtained.
  1. existence, especially of an independent entity.
  2. the quality of having timeless or abstract existence.
  3. mode of existence or that by which a substance is individualized.
Origin of subsistence
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Late Latin subsistentia; see subsist, -ence
Related forms
intersubsistence, noun
nonsubsistence, noun
presubsistence, noun
self-subsistence, noun
Can be confused
subsidence, subsistence.
3. survival, maintenance, nourishment. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for subsistence
  • With little means of subsistence or livelihood in the delta countryside, many of the tribal members have migrated to the cities.
  • If you could cure his defect, he would be without a means of subsistence, he would have no livelihood.
  • Years of begging and bare subsistence followed until he died.
  • New levels of philanthropic investments can propel them beyond the subsistence support that has been far too customary.
  • But selling to subsistence farmers takes some reshuffled thinking.
  • We put subsistence farmers out of business because that's our choice.
  • And it only follows that humanity will revert to a subsistence agrarian society within the confines of their own homes.
  • Of his own free will, he turns from a full-throttle embrace of life to a joyless subsistence.
  • The basic idea was that at some point, the equilibrium wages for workers might fall below the level needed for subsistence.
  • First, urbanization and industrialization made the poor more dependent on public charity for a minimum level of subsistence.
British Dictionary definitions for subsistence


the means by which one maintains life
the act or condition of subsisting
a thing that has real existence
the state of being inherent
(philosophy) an inferior mode of being ascribed to the references of general terms which do not in fact exist See also nonbeing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for subsistence

early 15c., "existence, independence," from Late Latin subsistentia "substance, reality," from Latin subsistens, present participle of subsistere "stand still or firm," from sub "under, up to" (see sub-) + sistere "to assume a standing position," from stare "to stand" (see assist). Properly a loan-translation of Greek hypostasis "subsistence," literally "anything placed under." Meaning "provision of support for animal life" is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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