Definition of subsistence in English:



  • 1The action or fact of maintaining or supporting oneself, especially at a minimal level.

    ‘the minimum income needed for subsistence’
    • ‘As world population increases and structural unemployment grows, more people find themselves in poverty and without available means of subsistence.’
    • ‘The Navy's land seizure knocked out most of the island's agriculture and effectively blocked the development of tourism, leaving commercial fishing as the primary means of subsistence.’
    • ‘The principle that there is a perpetual tendency in the race of man to increase beyond the means of subsistence is usually attributed to Malthus.’
    • ‘These comprise the means of subsistence, habitation, clothing and defense.’
    • ‘How can you have free trade, and bring the cost of goods down, by giving people wages, which are below the level of subsistence, and maintain that population?’
    • ‘There can be no real human liberation, Marx explained, unless the productivity of labour is so high that the majority of the population is no longer forced to spend most of its time trying to secure its means of subsistence.’
    • ‘No one complained of being late for work: most of the residents were unemployed and had lived here for years without visible means of subsistence.’
    • ‘They had no need to conspire in the expropriation of the means of subsistence by capitalists, because a free labor market was in place.’
    • ‘Millions who have been unemployed for many years are losing their means of subsistence.’
    • ‘It then seemed to the classicists that the real wages, or means of subsistence, had to be advanced to the laborers.’
    • ‘She was without visible means of subsistence and was, he said, a stupid and lazy girl.’
    • ‘Forcibly separated from the means of subsistence, by acts of enclosure in England, clearances in Scotland, they had little choice but to work for Gradgrind in his mill.’
    • ‘It's a very efficient dormitory facility and a secondary means of subsistence for people who do other work.’
    • ‘Many spouses live apart for considerable periods of time; often the economic situation is so desperate that they have to look for means of subsistence on their own.’
    • ‘Their means of subsistence was almost always assured; the interest of the master coincided with their own on this point.’
    • ‘The means of subsistence were practically the same as those of to-day, except that cattle-raising was more general.’
    • ‘It keeps the population fully up to the level of the means of subsistence; and, were its power ten times greater than it really is, it could do no more.’
    • ‘Somewhere back in China a factory manager is making a fortune, but the majority of people involved in eastern European trading earn barely the means of subsistence.’
    • ‘Hunting has traditionally been an important means of subsistence in the Caucasus Mountain region.’
    • ‘Their account of the shipwreck in Bermuda does not explain how the leader of the expedition managed to restore control when the island offered land for the taking and ready means of subsistence.’
    maintenance, keep, upkeep, support, livelihood, living, board, board and lodging
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    1. 1.1The means of maintaining or supporting oneself.
      ‘the garden provided not only subsistence but a little cash crop’
      • ‘I wonder if these were partly caused by the urban residents themselves who have long since shown little concern, even disdain, for those who trade physical labour for subsistence.’
      • ‘She worked as a cleaning lady, waitress, nursing home aid, only to realize that a single job does not provide enough money for subsistence.’
      • ‘The average citizen, however, is fortunate if they provide him with subsistence.’
      • ‘The pittance paid out in compensation for retrenchment has provided barely a few months subsistence, with former employees being thrown into abject poverty.’
      • ‘And yet, those marginal families, who are most likely to be dependent on subsistence are those who exist outside of the local economy created by ANSCA.’
      • ‘Women's wages were calculated on the assumption that they supplemented a family economy rather than providing individual subsistence.’
      • ‘Marriage was far less important for slave women than for white women; slave women, unlike their white counterparts, neither shared property with their husbands nor received subsistence from them.’
      • ‘Although most own very small fields, rights even in these can provide supplementary subsistence.’
      • ‘The issues to be resolved range from the grander puzzles of human evolution and speciation to parochial matters of subsistence and trade.’
      • ‘But, of course, it wasn't the weather that had done it: it was the months of dependence in the hotel, with nothing to do, but with a basic subsistence provided.’
      • ‘For those who embarked on a literary career, the only recourse was to draw their subsistence from the value of their writing when they signed their contract with a bookseller.’
      • ‘Alone among the New Deal agricultural agencies, they provided subsistence and operating credit for farmers.’
      • ‘This system is capable of providing for family subsistence but not of producing a large surplus for sale.’
      • ‘Thanks to local people's generosity, they have already been able to provide a temporary room and subsistence for eight individuals.’
      • ‘For a time, beginning in the 1920s, fox fur trading served as a supplement to subsistence.’
      survival, existence, living, life
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[as modifier]Denoting or relating to production at a level sufficient only for one's own use or consumption, without any surplus for trade.
      ‘subsistence agriculture’
      • ‘This implies among other things that the wage rate is equal to the subsistence basket evaluated in production prices.’
      • ‘The Parliament of landlords which took over politics in 1640 was not interested in preserving a peasantry engaged in subsistence production.’
      • ‘In a classic subsistence economy, producers are in a direct conversation with nature and make limited demands on a variety of natural system elements.’
      • ‘Costs of living differ radically, and where subsistence production accounts for a large part of the food supply, GNP grossly underestimates wealth.’
      • ‘We have not argued that the position of a subsistence producer, living at the edge of hunger, is the same as that of an affluent suburban dweller.’
      • ‘Other factors contributing to such households are housing shortages and the need to generate income through both wage labor and subsistence production.’
      • ‘They have always played an important role in agriculture, both in subsistence production and in the production of cash crops on small peasant farms.’
      • ‘For women facing the uncertainty of cash remittances or declining income, subsistence production becomes an important safety net.’
      • ‘Throughout much of Africa, the main rural production is subsistence agriculture, which cannot meet the needs of an expanding population.’
      • ‘Recent research has indicated that the technologically efficient British agriculture was producing, at least in grain, a large surplus over the subsistence needs of its people.’
      • ‘Hence in order to encourage people off the land and away from subsistence production, the incentive to produce for oneself and one's family had to be removed.’
      • ‘They have a fallback in subsistence production and other cash crops, such as cocoa and copra.’
      • ‘In general, FSA personnel helped clients to develop farm plans that moved them away from cash crop agriculture toward a mixed livestock and subsistence economy.’
      • ‘Nor must it be forgotten that there were many European societies, even at the end of the eighteenth century, in which privileged groups thoroughly cornered all consumption above the subsistence minimum.’
      • ‘The decline in subsistence production for domestic consumption means that people are doubly disappointed, as they need to buy rice and have no income.’
      • ‘She and her husband own four acres of land, sufficient for subsistence agriculture but not much else.’
      • ‘Participation in the market economy has blurred the strict demarcation of gender roles associated with subsistence production.’
      • ‘These developments all contributed to massive surplus extractions from subsistence producers confined to the reserves.’
      • ‘We know that household and village subsistence economies were predominant in India until at least the early years of the independence era.’
      • ‘Given overall limitations to their mobility and associated subsistence production, we find nothing odd about the Dorset pattern.’
  • 2Law
    The state of remaining in force or effect.

    ‘rights of occupation normally only continue during the subsistence of the marriage’
    • ‘Most notably, the United States has been removing formal requirements for copyright subsistence, in line with the Berne Convention.’
    • ‘That preliminary record is then published with the object of inviting comments and objections from persons interested either in the subsistence of the right of way or to deny its subsistence.’
    • ‘The bank's lien would, after all, continue only during the subsistence of the debenture, which the debtor would at all times have the right to redeem.’
    • ‘The only duty to the former client which survives the termination of the client relationship is a continuing duty to preserve the confidentiality of information imparted during its subsistence.’
    • ‘Their right to remain here depends upon the subsistence of the visa.’