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[suh-pawrt, -pohrt] /səˈpɔrt, -ˈpoʊrt/
verb (used with object)
to bear or hold up (a load, mass, structure, part, etc.); serve as a foundation for.
to sustain or withstand (weight, pressure, strain, etc.) without giving way; serve as a prop for.
to undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission; tolerate.
to sustain (a person, the mind, spirits, courage, etc.) under trial or affliction:
They supported him throughout his ordeal.
to maintain (a person, family, establishment, institution, etc.) by supplying with things necessary to existence; provide for:
to support a family.
to uphold (a person, cause, policy, etc.) by aid, countenance, one's vote, etc.; back; second.
to maintain or advocate (a theory, principle, etc.).
to corroborate (a statement, opinion, etc.):
Leading doctors supported his testimony.
to act with or second (a lead performer); assist in performance:
The star was supported by a talented newcomer.
the act or an instance of supporting.
the state of being supported.
something that serves as a foundation, prop, brace, or stay.
maintenance, as of a person or family, with necessaries, means, or funds:
to pay for support of an orphan.
a person or thing that supports, as financially:
The pension was his only support.
a person or thing that gives aid or assistance.
an actor, actress, or group performing with a lead performer.
the material, as canvas or wood, on which a picture is painted.
Stock Exchange. support level.
(of hosiery) made with elasticized fibers so as to fit snugly on the legs, thereby aiding circulation, relieving fatigue, etc.
Origin of support
1350-1400; (v.) Middle English supporten < Middle French supporter < Medieval Latin supportāre to endure (Latin: to convey), equivalent to sup- sup- + portāre to carry (see port5); (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related forms
supportingly, adverb
nonsupporting, adjective
presupport, noun, verb (used with object)
prosupport, adjective
quasi-supported, adjective
undersupport, noun
unsupported, adjective
unsupportedly, adverb
unsupporting, adjective
well-supported, adjective
1, 6. Support, maintain, sustain, uphold all mean to hold up and to preserve. To support is to hold up or add strength to, literally or figuratively: The columns support the roof. To maintain is to support so as to preserve intact: to maintain an attitude of defiance. To sustain, a rather elevated word, suggests completeness and adequacy in supporting: The court sustained his claim. Uphold applies especially to supporting or backing another, as in a statement, opinion, or belief: to uphold the rights of a minority. 3. suffer, bear, stand, stomach. 13. sustenance, subsistence, keep. See living. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for support
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Trembling so violently that he had to lean on the balustrade for support, he told me.

    In Kings' Byways Stanley J. Weyman
  • Rough and trying times are coming, love, and I must have your support.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • Kerensky hesitated, but what about the support of the Commissars and Committees?

    The Russian Turmoil Anton Ivanovich Denikin
  • I challenge you to combat, to test whether you can support your lies.

    Millennium Everett B. Cole
  • This country must do all it can to support the arms of Britain.

British Dictionary definitions for support


verb (transitive)
to carry the weight of
to bear or withstand (pressure, weight, etc)
to provide the necessities of life for (a family, person, etc)
to tend to establish (a theory, statement, etc) by providing new facts; substantiate
to speak in favour of (a motion)
to give aid or courage to
to give approval to (a cause, principle, etc); subscribe to: to support a political candidature
to endure with forbearance: I will no longer support bad behaviour
to give strength to; maintain: to support a business
(transitive) (in a concert) to perform earlier than (the main attraction)
(films, theatre)
  1. to play a subordinate role to
  2. to accompany (the feature) in a film programme
to act or perform (a role or character)
the act of supporting or the condition of being supported
a thing that bears the weight or part of the weight of a construction
a person who or thing that furnishes aid
the means of maintenance of a family, person, etc
a band or entertainer not topping the bill
the support, an actor or group of actors playing subordinate roles
(med) an appliance worn to ease the strain on an injured bodily structure or part
the solid material on which a painting is executed, such as canvas
Derived Forms
supportless, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French supporter, from Latin supportāre to bring, from sub- up + portāre to carry
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 support

late 14c., "to aid," also "to hold up, prop up," from Old French supporter, from Latin supportare "convey, carry, bring up," from sub "up from under" + portare "to carry" (see port (n.1)). Related: Supported; supporting.


late 14c., "act of assistance, backing, help, aid," from support (v.). Meaning "one who provides assistance, protection, backing, etc." is early 15c. Sense of "bearing of expense" is mid-15c. Physical sense of "that which supports" is from 1560s. Meaning "services which enable something to fulfil its function and remain in operation" (e.g. tech support) is from 1953.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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support in Medicine

support sup·port (sə-pôrt')
v. sup·port·ed, sup·port·ing, sup·ports

  1. To bear the weight of, especially from below.

  2. To hold in position so as to keep from falling, sinking, or slipping.

  3. To be capable of bearing; withstand.

  4. To keep from weakening or failing; strengthen.

  5. To provide for or maintain, by supplying with money or necessities.

  6. To endure; tolerate.

  1. The act of supporting.

  2. The state of being supported.

  3. One that supports or maintains.

  4. Maintenance, as of a family, with the necessities of life.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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support in Technology

After-sale handholding; something many software vendors promise but few deliver. To hackers, most support people are useless - because by the time a hacker calls support he or she will usually know the software and the relevant manuals better than the support people (sadly, this is *not* a joke or exaggeration). A hacker's idea of "support" is a tête-à-tête or exchange of electronic mail with the software's designer.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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