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[suhs-tuh-nuh ns] /ˈsʌs tə nəns/
means of sustaining life; nourishment.
means of livelihood.
the process of sustaining.
the state of being sustained.
Origin of sustenance
1250-1300; Middle English sustena(u)nce < Anglo-French; Old French sostenance. See sustain, -ance
Related forms
sustenanceless, adjective
nonsustenance, noun
self-sustenance, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sustenance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For that matter, the very oil they breed in, gives them sustenance.

  • What do they do but live and suck in sustenance and grow fat?

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • It is not only possible, but easy, to win from Nature all that is necessary or desirable, for our sustenance and comfort.

    The Philosophy of Teaching Nathaniel Sands
  • We found a farmer just up, and made him give us sustenance for ourselves and our horses.

    The Prisoner of Zenda Anthony Hope
  • How often I had given the price of a week's sustenance to see her for a moment!

    The Magic Skin Honore de Balzac
  • Without its own sustenance from the spiritual world, how could it survive?

    The Life Radiant Lilian Whiting
British Dictionary definitions for sustenance


means of sustaining health or life; nourishment
means of maintenance; livelihood
Also sustention (səˈstɛnʃən). the act or process of sustaining or the quality of being sustained
Word Origin
C13: from Old French sostenance, from sustenir to sustain
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 sustenance

c.1300, "means of living, subsistence, livelihood," from Old French sustenance (French soutenance), from Late Latin sustinentia "endurance," from Latin sustinens, present participle of sustinere (see sustain). Meaning "action of sustaining life by food" is from late 14c. Sense of "nourishment" is recorded from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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