Definition of sustain in English:



  • 1Strengthen or support physically or mentally.

    ‘this thought had sustained him throughout the years’
    ‘a sustaining breakfast of bacon and eggs’
    • ‘We have been greatly encouraged and sustained by the support and prayer that we know has been going on here recently.’
    • ‘And I do believe that that kind of activity, over time, cannot sustain the support of the public.’
    • ‘It receives no regular federal or state support and sustains itself with admission fees, museum shop sales, and private gits.’
    • ‘They expect these very property owners to toe the line to strengthen and sustain their internal revenue streams.’
    • ‘And it's difficult in a democracy to sustain support for the war.’
    • ‘As the definition of workplace advocacy implies, these activities range from supporting and sustaining efforts to more innovative assertive measures.’
    • ‘No army of this size had ever been sustained and supported logistically by road.’
    • ‘Increased alertness, peak mental function and sustained physical power are all qualities that ancient fighters wielding bows and arrows coveted.’
    • ‘And theology, especially Barthian theology, has played a significant role in supporting that faith, strengthening and sustaining it.’
    • ‘It used to fit me, like a worn and slightly grubby glove, supporting and sustaining me through my younger years, and still does when I take a trip up for this reason or for that.’
    • ‘Do you think that there is enough support to sustain the exploration?’
    • ‘Workers Online understands the teenager hurt in the mine accident was being sustained by a life support system.’
    • ‘But it must be open to question whether such a level of support can be sustained if there are serious military reverses and a consequent daily diet of harrowing television pictures.’
    • ‘We have the meals and snacks that will sustain your mental and physical stamina from dawn to dusk.’
    • ‘Russian support sustains Europe's last dictatorship in Belarus.’
    • ‘The nostalgia's great, I'm loving experiencing it, but my feelings for Queen of the South won't sustain me in the supporters' eyes.’
    • ‘Most of all, Angela will always be grateful to the many well wishers, neighbours and friends who have supported and sustained her family throughout the years.’
    • ‘The strikers have remained defiant throughout the last year sustained by community support and collections.’
    • ‘These strong linkages between school and community help strengthen and sustain the rural community on numerous levels.’
    • ‘There is very little leeway to support a more sustained advance in share prices, he said.’
    comfort, help, assist, encourage, succour, support, give strength to, be a source of strength to, be a tower of strength to, buoy up, carry, cheer up, hearten, see someone through
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    1. 1.1Bear (the weight of an object) without breaking or falling.
      ‘he sagged against her so that she could barely sustain his weight’
      figurative ‘his health will no longer enable him to sustain the heavy burdens of office’
      • ‘He tried testing it out on the sideline after a new tape job, but he couldn't sustain weight on it.’
      • ‘To understand this issue we develop a simple scale argument to see how the moments needed to oscillate a wing or fin compare to those needed to sustain the weight of an animal or produce thrust.’
      • ‘Some of them barely looked capable of sustaining the weight; you could almost see their legs wobbling with the strain.’
      • ‘I kiss my shoes goodbye as we slide into the bridge rail not strong enough to sustain the weight of a white stretch limo bearing serial rented cardboard shoes.’
      • ‘With a population of just on 20 million, it's very, very difficult to sustain a critical mass, to ensure that we've got a safe and viable industry.’
      • ‘We don't bother much about whether the infant's bones were too fragile to sustain the weight for so long, as long as it could procure us a celebrity status for the time being.’
      • ‘Umbrellas is so obviously a fantasy that the story can sustain the weight and still float effortlessly.’
      • ‘Their little wobbly legs barely sustaining their weight.’
      • ‘The traditional view of sauropods was that they were barely able to sustain their own weight and therefore lived in swamps.’
      • ‘He built a pair of wings of a size suitable to sustain his own weight, and made use of gravity as his motor.’
      • ‘However, a long-term weight maintenance program is needed to sustain weight loss.’
      • ‘Tests on cadavers prove that bones in the hand are not strong enough to sustain a body's weight.’
      • ‘The movies need stars and the stars need movies, but to sustain the financial weight of star casting, a film must be geared to the widest possible audience.’
      • ‘The factor of 4 follows from the fact that two wings sustain the weight at their midpoint.’
      • ‘Admittedly the film's premise is barely enough to sustain its 100-minute running time, but this film is as much brains as it is heart.’
      • ‘Its arteries are choked with traffic, lungs corroded by pollutants, throat parched with thirst, and body labouring under a weight its heart cannot sustain.’
      • ‘I noticed that I was massively fatigued and not able to sustain my weight and I was on the toilet about six or seven times a day.’
      • ‘By changing their individual environments, patients may be more successful in sustaining their weight management behaviors.’
      • ‘Rather, it was the ability of the floor to sustain the weight of the artifacts that dictated the design.’
      • ‘It is film-making in bad faith, film-making with a guilty conscience, and no work can gracefully sustain such a weight.’
      bear, support, carry, stand, keep up, prop up, shore up, bolster, underpin, buttress
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  • 2Undergo or suffer (something unpleasant, especially an injury)

    ‘he sustained severe head injuries’
    • ‘Nineteen others were flung from the minibus and sustained severe injuries.’
    • ‘In early July, a 29-month-old girl from Dufresne died after sustaining fatal injuries on her parent's farm.’
    • ‘Up to November 2003, 27 people died in separate accidents, 221 sustained severe injuries.’
    • ‘Mayo suffered a big blow the first as their centre half-back sustained a severe injury resulting in her now being able to line out on Sunday August 31.’
    • ‘One sailor died and others sustained injuries.’
    • ‘By that stage Mayo had suffered a loss in defence when Sharon Anderson sustained a knee injury shortly after the restart and had to be carried off the field.’
    • ‘He sustained head injuries and a fractured skull.’
    • ‘But the Durrington athlete, who has only just returned to competition after suffering from persistent shoulder troubles, sustained a back injury while warming up.’
    • ‘The two players were trapped in the partly mangled bus and eventually died while a few others sustained minor injuries.’
    • ‘He had been summoned back to the Opera House from the underground, after Ivan Putrov had sustained an injury during Scenes de Ballet.’
    • ‘Crockett, who felt the effects of the crash for six months after it happened, suffered trauma to his head and sustained other injuries.’
    • ‘One fourth of elderly persons who sustain a hip fracture die within six months of the injury.’
    • ‘Wong suffered slight hand injuries while Cheung sustained head wounds.’
    • ‘The murderer is caught but has sustained a spinal injury and suffers from Locked-in Syndrome, a real medical condition that eliminates all motor co-ordination.’
    • ‘Cass required eight stitches for his head wound and sustained additional injuries on his arms and hands.’
    • ‘He sustained severe injuries on his right leg and wounded his left knee and left hand. " My mobile had run out of charge, so I could not contact anybody.’
    • ‘She fought back and sustained severe injuries from which she bled profusely.’
    • ‘His right ear was almost ripped off, his right cheek was badly bitten and he sustained severe injuries to the back of the head and hands.’
    • ‘Their father, James, was working in Ireland and flew back to break the news to his wife who was seriously ill in hospital after sustaining severe injuries.’
    • ‘She sustained serious injuries and died just two days later.’
    undergo, experience, go through, suffer, endure
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  • 3Cause to continue for an extended period or without interruption.

    ‘he cannot sustain a normal conversation’
    • ‘In all the analysts are optimistic that 2003 could be a year of continued and sustained economic growth.’
    • ‘The first is that China will continue to sustain high growth rates in gross national product.’
    • ‘The Growth Competitiveness Index measures a country's potential to achieve sustained economic growth.’
    • ‘His assessment, mirrored by British Army intelligence, was that while the military campaign could be sustained over an extended period it could not win.’
    • ‘Paul Tansey, an independent economist, warned that we have to become more productive if we are to sustain economic growth long term.’
    • ‘We have peace in the broader context and national security, but that is not enough to move the country forward to sustained democracy and economic growth.’
    • ‘This requires a rethinking of power and reliability options - ones that can sustain operations for extended periods.’
    • ‘But unilateralism cannot be sustained over an extended period on multiple fronts.’
    • ‘Political stability will be an important factor in ensuring sustained economic growth and continued international integration.’
    • ‘What accounts for the few countries that are able to initiate and sustain periods of rapid growth in which they gain significantly on the leaders?’
    • ‘Thereby whole generations live under the shadow of crippling debts that require extraordinary and sustained levels of economic growth to offset.’
    • ‘There is a strong body of economic thought that says cutting taxes when a government is running such a healthy budget surplus is the best way to sustain economic growth.’
    • ‘But he said the UK economy had continued to grow and had enjoyed the longest period of continuous and sustained recession-free growth for 50 years.’
    • ‘In Singapore, analysts said Japan's economic continuity is crucial to sustain economic recovery in the region.’
    • ‘The most rapid sustained period of economic growth ever seen in an OECD country combined with many other factors to mean that the political landscape simply had to be different.’
    • ‘Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries and sustained economic growth is needed to help eradicate deep and widespread poverty.’
    • ‘Despite the negative effects of the debt crisis upon many countries within the South, others among them enjoyed significant and sustained economic growth over the 1980s.’
    • ‘But however ambitious, these projects have failed to generate sustained economic growth.’
    • ‘Simply stated, debt is not the route to wealth or sustained economic growth unless it is wisely invested to achieve a rate of return to our economy over and above the cost of the funds borrowed.’
    • ‘We frame our analysis in terms that include both populations of constant size and populations that sustain periods of growth followed by population bottlenecks.’
    continuous, ongoing, steady, continual, continuing, constant, running, prolonged, persistent, non-stop, perpetual, unfaltering, unremitting, unabating, unrelenting, relentless, unrelieved, unbroken, never-ending, unending, incessant, unceasing, ceaseless, round the clock
    continue, carry on, keep up, keep going, keep alive, keep in existence, keep, maintain, prolong, preserve, conserve, protract, perpetuate, bolster up, prop up, retain, extend
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    1. 3.1(of a performer) represent (a part or character) convincingly.
      ‘he sustained the role of Creon with burly resilience’
      • ‘I co-wrote a play with Josh Dean a few years ago and he's an improviser as is Jocelyn; that tells me the person knows how to create and sustain a character.’
      • ‘Damon has shown his mettle in a number of films, proving that he has the ability to build and sustain a character, even though he has never had the great role.’
      • ‘Working with Marlene Kaminsky for In Absentia was, on the other hand, very difficult since it wasn't a role where you could sustain a character.’
      • ‘To put on, or to be clothed with one, is to assume the person and character of that one; and they who do so are bound to act his part, and to sustain the character which they have assumed.’
      • ‘The ensemble remains strong throughout the piece, and while the second Act may be overlong, the performers sustain their focus with dexterity and integrity.’
      • ‘These days most authors of the comic novel fail because they cannot sustain their characters and situations.’
      • ‘Can writer/performer Ronnie Burkett really sustain his story of adoption, vampires and gay liberationist terrorism through a solo puppet performance?’
      • ‘The role of Ed is obviously pivotal to this play, and Adrian Rice sustained the character with a touching blend of humour, thoughtfulness and assurance.’
      • ‘In the end, the reversal of fantasy and reality propels the narrative mystery of Mulholland Drive, and sustains the central character's obsessive - but gratifying - worldview.’
  • 4Uphold, affirm, or confirm the justice or validity of.

    ‘the allegations of discrimination were sustained’
    • ‘In the absence of such evidence, a finding of discrimination could not be sustained.’
    • ‘He would then be counted on for help in defending the city from attacks, sustaining its institutions of justice, and contributing to its common good.’
    • ‘In my respectful view, the evidentiary predicate required to sustain the order that the applicants stand trial was present.’
    • ‘As the following paragraphs make clear, that claim was not sustained by the evidence at the trial.’
    • ‘I spent the whole trip asking myself if there was anything in my religious or philosophical repertoire that could sustain the concept of justice.’
    • ‘These sorts of basic things is what sustains the rule of law, but it's very, very difficult to do that in a society which is heavily armed and in which force is the only way in which disputes are resolved.’
    • ‘I need not determine the issue here because I am sustaining the acquittal on other grounds.’
    • ‘Much of the difficulty is caused by attempting to categorise as an unjust enrichment of the defendant, for which an action in restitution is available, what is really a loss unfairly sustained by the plaintiff.’
    • ‘It was part if the prosecution process in that the carrying on of the prosecution was attempting to sustain the conviction obtained.’
    • ‘The amended particulars of claim contained detailed allegations as to losses sustained by the claimants.’
    • ‘Where a plaintiff is induced by misrepresentation to enter into an agreement which is, or proves to be, to his or her disadvantage, the plaintiff sustains a detriment in a general sense on entry into the agreement.’
    • ‘It does not require or permit the Court to assess damages on the basis of a fiction; to treat losses sustained by third parties as if they had been sustained by the Plaintiff.’
    • ‘The plaintiff did not sustain any significant birth asphyxia, and accordingly the fault of allowing the second stage of labour to continue too long was not causative of the plaintiff's brain damage.’
    • ‘Now, with all due respect, as I understand it, it is the Court's role to ultimately sustain justice in all cases that are before the Court.’
    • ‘Was that to sustain the subpoena and to show that it was not a pure fishing expedition and that you had a justifiable course of inquiry that you were pursuing?’
    • ‘Had the High Court reasoning been sustained, the implications for the Health Service as a whole might have been considerable.’
    • ‘Mr Caws accepts that on the available evidence he cannot sustain a contention that the Labour group took a formal decision to approve the application at the meeting of the Planning Committee.’
    • ‘We also have a detailed knowledge of international norms that sustain justice and peace.’
    • ‘None of the cases sustained the use of libel laws to impose sanctions upon expression critical of the official conduct of public officials.’
    • ‘In those circumstances Mr Black had failed to demonstrate or produce sufficient evidence that he actually sustained a loss under this head.’
    uphold, validate, ratify, vindicate, confirm, endorse, approve
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  • [mass noun] An effect or facility on a keyboard or electronic instrument whereby a note can be sustained after the key is released.

    • ‘Some guitarists prefer diode clipping, along with the gain required for ultimate sustain.’
    • ‘Compressing a rock ballad 3 to 4 dB on peaks, the result was intoxicatingly creamy and bold, with beautiful density and sustain.’
    • ‘She has a decent voice, but it was her sustain on the more difficult notes that really impressed.’


Middle English: from Old French soustenir, from Latin sustinere, from sub- from below + tenere hold.