Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To exist; be.
  • intransitive v. To remain or continue in existence.
  • intransitive v. To maintain life; live: subsisted on one meal a day.
  • intransitive v. To be logically conceivable.
  • transitive v. To maintain or support with provisions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To survive on a minimum of resources.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To be; to have existence; to inhere.
  • intransitive v. To continue; to retain a certain state.
  • intransitive v. To be maintained with food and clothing; to be supported; to live.
  • transitive v. To support with provisions; to feed; to maintain.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To remain; continue; abide; retain the existing state.
  • To have continued existence; exist.
  • To be maintained; be supported; live.
  • To inhere; have existence by means of something else.
  • To keep in existence.
  • To feed; maintain; support with provisions.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. support oneself

Etymologies

Latin subsistere, to support : sub-, sub- + sistere, to stand; see stā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French subsister, from Latin subsistere ("to take a stand or position, stand still, stop, stay, remain, continue"), from sub ("under") + sistere ("to cause to stand, place"). Compare consist, desist, exist, insist, persist. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Sometimes a man will labour for weeks and months in unproductive ground, following up a small vein in the hope of its leading into a good lode, and making so little by his hard toil that on pay day of each month he is compelled to ask his employer for "subsist" -- or a small advance of money -- to enable him to live and go on with his work.

    Deep Down, a Tale of the Cornish Mines

  • The problem, I submit, is in using words like "subsist" which can mean different things to different people and whether these different meanings were intended by the drafters of the documents.

    Cardinal Schönborn: Out of the loop?

  • As evinced by Vatican II's Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio, as well as other pertinent documents since that council closed, the Catholic Church has undergone and fostered the development of ecclesiological doctrine in such a way as to give an account of how the EOs and OOs relate to "the Church," which is said to "subsist" in the Roman communion as a perduring whole...

    Orthodoxy on churches outside "the Church"

  • And if such a community can exist even though in schism from that visible body wherein the Church of Christ is said to "subsist", that is an admission that the body of Christ can be divided while remaining on both sides of the divide truly the Catholic Church.

    The new CDF document on ecclesiology

  • As evinced by Vatican II's Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio, as well as other pertinent documents since that council closed, the Catholic Church has undergone and fostered the development of ecclesiological doctrine in such a way as to give an account of how the EOs and OOs relate to "the Church," which is said to "subsist" in the Roman communion as a perduring whole.

    Ravenna: the latest chapter in Catholic-Orthodox ecumenism

  • The greater number of small birds that remain in northern latitudes during winter, except the Woodpeckers and their congeners, are such as subsist chiefly upon seeds.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 03, No. 17, March, 1859

  • Hence the demand for "subsist" is not necessarily a sign of absolute but only of temporary poverty.

    Deep Down, a Tale of the Cornish Mines

  • After all the men had been paid, those who wished for "subsist," or advances, were desired to come forward.

    Deep Down, a Tale of the Cornish Mines

  • Smallaxe, "subsist" usually entails just surviving.

    Faith-Promoting Rumor

  • "subsist," that is, drawing advances monthly for nearly a year, and, having a wife and children to support, had almost lost heart.

    Deep Down, a Tale of the Cornish Mines

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