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[suh-stey-nuh-buh l] /səˈsteɪ nə bəl/
capable of being supported or upheld, as by having its weight borne from below.
pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse:
sustainable agriculture. Aquaculture is a sustainable alternative to overfishing.
able to be maintained or kept going, as an action or process:
a sustainable negotiation between the two countries.
able to be confirmed or upheld:
a sustainable decision.
able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds:
a sustainable life.
Origin of sustainable
Related forms
sustainability, noun
nonsustainable, adjective
nonsustainability, noun
unsustainable, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sustainable
  • We don't know if that is sustainable or if the catch is increasing dramatically.
  • He says widespread hunting will be needed to reduce deer populations to a sustainable level.
  • Cities will get bigger, of course, and suburbs will grow but will need to become more environmentally sustainable.
  • The company is focused on sustainable travel practices and provides flexible hand-crafted itineraries and knowledgeable guides.
  • The cups are part of a growing trend in sustainable packaging, which has had its own bumps.
  • One is that coal can be used in less damaging, more sustainable ways than it is now.
  • The increased development and maintenance of strong, sustainable cities and towns will not happen without a concerted effort.
  • With food, first aid and books sourced from other sustainable protest villages.
  • Kellogg alone has funded the majority of the sustainable food movement's efforts over the past decade.
  • First, there is no single sustainable model for national success.
British Dictionary definitions for sustainable


capable of being sustained
(of economic development, energy sources, etc) capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage: sustainable development
(of economic growth) non-inflationary
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 sustainable

1610s, "bearable," from sustain + -able. Attested from 1845 in the sense "defensible;" from 1965 with the meaning "capable of being continued at a certain level." Sustainable growth is recorded from 1965. Related: Sustainably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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