Definition of subsist in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Maintain or support oneself, especially at a minimal level.

    ‘thousands of refugees subsist on international handouts’
    • ‘Ramachari and his family subsisted on the income that he was able to generate from making farming implements for the farmers who lived around him in the village.’
    • ‘When he was 5, his adoptive father died, and he and his mother and half-brother subsisted on $100 a month.’
    • ‘He lost an eye and both hands while on missionary work in Afghanistan and has had to subsist on benefits ever since.’
    • ‘All the Indian breeds have certain common characteristics; they are hardy, resistant to diseases, can withstand harsh ecological conditions and subsist on a low level of nutrition.’
    • ‘The Old Firm clubs attract a combined attendance of 110,000 to every home game, but subsist on 20 per cent of the television revenue level of Premiership sides.’
    • ‘I joined a hunger strike at Northwestern and subsisted on liquids for almost a week, but went off it when I almost fainted.’
    • ‘He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food.’
    • ‘The mountains, for the most part, had been ignored by the tiny seaside town that barely managed to subsist on the fish it caught each year.’
    • ‘There are medical terms that would account for the facts that he muffled himself in mittens and woolly hats, that he subsisted on a terrifying diet of pills of all descriptions.’
    • ‘Louise, from Kidderminster, Worcestershire, told a Press conference at the state emergency headquarters in Tully how she ate a banana during the first hour of her walk, but was then left to subsist on a diet of chewing gum.’
    • ‘Li labored all day in the icy cold, subsisted on watery soup, and spent the evenings in exhausting self-criticism sessions or on even more exhausting forced marches.’
    • ‘Attaining such enhancements will surely require serious increases in funding to Inuit broadcast organizations, most of which presently subsist on bare bones budgets.’
    • ‘According to the Centre for the Defense of the Consumer, minimum wage income in urban areas covers only one fifth of basic living expenses, and many people subsist on the volatile income of the informal economy.’
    • ‘While debate continues about regulating traditional Inuit foods, especially in the wake of Mad Cow disease, thousands of Nunavut families enjoy year-round the same kind of meat and fish their ancestors subsisted on.’
    • ‘These prisoners faced frequent beatings by superiors, subsisted on an inadequate diet, and lacked the clothing or boots needed for working in the cold, rugged terrain.’
    • ‘We subsisted on rabbit stew and similar one-pot wonders.’
    • ‘The beast subsisted on a diet of swamp things, but was known to occasionally snack on wayward lumberjacks and other unfortunates.’
    • ‘It becomes normal to see these hugely important capitalist types walking through hotel lobbies, normal to subsist on free croissants and fruit nicked from the Really Big Consultants' office next door.’
    • ‘Up until the 1920s, in the mountain ranges of Westmoreland and south into Fayette, many small farmers subsisted on bear meat, preferable to venison, and considered by many to be juicier and better than beef.’
    • ‘Although they had provisions to last a few days, they subsisted on bare minimum of rice gruel for energy to stay afloat.’
    survive, live, stay alive, exist, eke out an existence, endure
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    1. 1.1archaic with object Provide sustenance for.
      ‘the problem of subsisting the poor in a period of high bread prices’
      • ‘For him Scottish linen manufacturing and fisheries were ‘the only Means for increasing our Wealth and Numbers, the sole Fund for employing and subsisting the Poor, and our only Stock for Foreign Trade’.’
      • ‘Congress had allocated General Sherman, whose brother John was a US senator, some five hundred thousand dollars for subsisting the needy Indians under the area encompassed by his Department of the Missouri.’
  • 2Law
    Remain in being, force, or effect.

    • ‘The valuable consideration is evident in the competition that subsists between the corporate respondents.’
    • ‘The fiduciary relationship which subsists between solicitor and client comes to an end with the termination of the retainer.’
    • ‘In brief, these show that the court may award damages on sales made after the expiry of a patent provided they are caused by infringements arising whilst the patent subsisted.’
    • ‘The business, as a trading enterprise, continued to subsist as an identifiable item of property.’
    • ‘The defendant accepted that the marriage was genuine and subsisting and his subsequent actions and considerations were predicated upon this premise.’
    continue, last, persist, endure, prevail, hold out, carry on, live on, live, survive, be in existence, exist, be alive, remain, abide, linger
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    1. 2.1subsist in Be attributable to.
      ‘the effect of genetic maldevelopment may subsist in chromosomal mutation’
      • ‘While property may have value in a religious or monetary sense, that valuation subsists in the cultural artifact which is possession.’
      • ‘The film itself is not an event, but is merely another actualisation of the pure event which subsists in the actualisation.’
      • ‘This history of conflict subsists in the environmental devastation caused by oil exploitation and Delta peoples' fight against faceless European and American oil corporations.’
      • ‘It is important to distinguish two kinds of nirva: the first is the moral and spiritual transformation that takes place in life, and the second is the condition that subsists in the post-mortem state.’
      • ‘Desire, Belsey continues, is not a property of the mind or the body but subsists in the gap between the two, deconstructing the Cartesian opposition between mind and body and destabilizing the difference between them.’
      lie, reside, have its being, be inherent, rest, dwell, abide, be present, inhere
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Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘continue to exist’): from Latin subsistere ‘stand firm’, from sub- ‘from below’ + sistere ‘set, stand’.