Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To keep in existence; maintain, continue, or prolong.
  • transitive verb To keep up (a joke or assumed role, for example) competently.
  • transitive verb To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for.
  • transitive verb To support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage.
  • transitive verb To support from below; keep from falling or sinking; prop.
  • transitive verb To bear up under; withstand.
  • transitive verb To experience or suffer.
  • transitive verb To affirm the validity of.
  • noun A capacity of a musical instrument to continue the resounding of a note or tone.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One who or that which upholds; a sustainer.
  • To hold up; bear up; uphold; support.
  • To hold suspended; keep from falling or sinking: as, a rope sustains a weight; to sustain one in the water.
  • To keep from sinking in despondency; support.
  • To maintain; keep up; especially, to keep alive; support; subsist; nourish: as, provisions to sustain a family or an army; food insufficient to sustain life.
  • To support in any condition by aid; vindicate, comfort, assist, or relieve; favor.
  • To endure without failing or yielding; bear up against; stand: as, able to sustain a shock.
  • To suffer; have to submit to; bear; undergo.
  • To admit or support as correct or valid; hold as well founded: as, the court sustained the action or suit.
  • To support or maintain; establish by evidence; bear out; prove; confirm; make good; corroborate: as, such facts sustain the statement; the evidence is not sufficient to sustain the charge.
  • In music, of tones, to prolong or hold to full time-value; render in a legato or sostenuto manner.
  • See living.
  • 8 and To sanction, approve, ratify, justify.
  • To sustain one's self; rest for support.
  • To bear; endure; suffer.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete One who, or that which, upholds or sustains; a sustainer.
  • transitive verb To keep from falling; to bear; to uphold; to support.
  • transitive verb Hence, to keep from sinking, as in despondence, or the like; to support.
  • transitive verb To maintain; to keep alive; to support; to subsist; to nourish.
  • transitive verb To aid, comfort, or relieve; to vindicate.
  • transitive verb To endure without failing or yielding; to bear up under.
  • transitive verb To suffer; to bear; to undergo.
  • transitive verb To allow the prosecution of; to admit as valid; to sanction; to continue; not to dismiss or abate.
  • transitive verb To prove; to establish by evidence; to corroborate or confirm; to be conclusive of.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun music A mechanism which can be used to hold a note, as the right pedal on a piano.
  • verb transitive To maintain (something), or keep it in existence.
  • verb transitive To provide for or nourish (something).
  • verb transitive To encourage (something).
  • verb transitive To experience or suffer (an injury, etc.).
  • verb transitive To confirm, prove, or corroborate (something).

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

  • verb establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts
  • verb admit as valid
  • verb undergo (as of injuries and illnesses)
  • verb be the physical support of; carry the weight of
  • verb lengthen or extend in duration or space
  • verb provide with nourishment
  • verb supply with necessities and support

Etymologies

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

[Middle English sustenen, from Old French sustenir, from Latin sustinēre : sub-, from below; see sub– + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French sustenir (French: soutenir), from Latin sustineo, from sub- + teneo.

Examples

  • Because the Bush Administration vowed to keep ‘the war’ going, as in sustain combat activities indefinitely, absent any ultimate victory.

    Matthew Yglesias » Obama Still Ending the War

  • Good starts are great, but being able to sustain is important.

    USATODAY.com

  • The "mark of difference" that the lyrical ballads sustain is "that each of them has a worthy purpose."

    Wordsworth’s Balladry: Real Men Wanted

  • And girls were burdens to the mind of John.) "Had I a boy, he would our name sustain,

    Tales

  • And girls were burdens to the mind of John.) "Had I a boy, he would our name sustain,

    Tales

  • And girls were burdens to the mind of John.) "Had I a boy, he would our name sustain,

    Tales

  • And I think it can be something that we can sustain, that is, the idea that every election is important, that not just the presidential elections, but every election is important and helps to shape the future.

    Interview Of The President By American Urban Radio

  • She committed herself to securing top international artists to contribute their talents during the course of the year to sustain a kaleidoscope of entertainment for the nation while paying tribute to Mandela.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • After Gaza, this position is becoming more and more difficult to sustain, which is why those who adopt it are getting more and more desperately strident.

    Window Into Palestine

  • West Coast liberals need to admit that their ideas are too expensive to sustain, which is why California is bankrupt.

    HolyCoast.com

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