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.
- To survive on a minimum of resources.
- to subsist on other men's charity
- (chiefly philosophy) To have ontological reality; to exist.
- Alexander Pope
- And makes what happiness we justly call, / Subsist not in the good of one, but all.
- Alexander Pope
- To retain a certain state; to continue.
- Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve.
1646, Thomas Browne, “Of the Cameleon”, in Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents, and Commonly Presumed Truths, London: Printed for Tho. Harper for Edvvard Dod, OCLC 838860010; Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents, and Commonly Presumed Truths. [...] Together with Some Marginall Observations, and a Table Alphabeticall at the End, book 3, 2nd corrected and much enlarged edition, London: Printed by A. Miller, for Edw[ard] Dod and Nath. Ekins, at the Gunne in Ivie Lane, 1650, OCLC 152706203, page 133:
- It cannot be denied it [the chameleon] is (if not the moſt of any) a very abſtemious animall, and ſuch as by reaſon of its frigidity, paucity of bloud, and latitancy in the winter (about which time the obſervations are often made) will long ſubſist without a viſible ſuſtentation.
1787, “The History of Europe”, in The Annual Register, or A View of the History, Politics, and Literature, for the Years 1784 and 1785, volume XXVII, London: Printed by J[ames] Dodsley, in Pall-Mall, OCLC 874176698, chapter VIII, page 134, column 1:
- It was impoſſible that the queen of France [Marie Antoinette] ſhould not be deeply affected by a conteſt, which ſo cloſely involved her neareſt and deareſt connections, and threatened ſo immediate and perhaps irreparable a breach of the harmony and friendſhip ſubſiſting between them.