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From Latin subsistō (halt, stop), from sub (below) + sistō (stand, place). Compare consist, desist, exist, insist, persist.



subsist (third-person singular simple present subsists, present participle subsisting, simple past and past participle subsisted)

  1. To survive on a minimum of resources.
    • 1709 December 6, Francis Atterbury, A Sermon Preach’d before the Sons of the Clergy, London: Jonah Bowyer, page 28:
      Let us, this day, imitate his Example in both theſe Reſpects ; and whilſt we are enjoying the good things of Life, let us remember Thoſe that want even the Neceſſaries and firſt Conveniences of it : And remember them, as We ourſelves ſhould have deſired to be remembred, had it been our ſad Lot, to ſubſiſt on other Mens Charity.
  2. (chiefly philosophy) To have ontological reality; to exist.
    • 1733–34, Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Man”, in The Works of Alexander Pope, page 128:
      Remember, Man, “the Univerſal Cauſe / “Acts not by partial, but by gen’ral laws :” / And makes what Happineſs we juſtly call / Subſiſt not in the good of one, but all.
  3. To retain a certain state; to continue.

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