From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search





From Middle English susteinen, sustenen, from Old French sustenir (French soutenir), from Latin sustineō, sustinēre (to uphold), from sub- (from below, up) + teneō (hold, verb).





sustain (third-person singular simple present sustains, present participle sustaining, simple past and past participle sustained)

  1. (transitive) To maintain, or keep in existence.
    The professor had trouble sustaining students’ interest until the end of her lectures.
    The city came under sustained attack by enemy forces.
    Sam managed to sustain his erection for two straight hours.
  2. (transitive) To provide for or nourish.
    provisions to sustain an army
  3. (transitive) To encourage or sanction (something). (The addition of quotations indicative of this usage is being sought:)
  4. (transitive) To experience or suffer (an injury, etc.).
    Coordinate term: incur
    The building sustained major damage in the earthquake.
  5. (transitive) To confirm, prove, or corroborate; to uphold.
    to sustain a charge, an accusation, or a proposition
  6. (law, of a judge) To allow, accept, or admit (e.g. an objection or motion) as valid.
    Antonym: overrule
  7. To keep from falling; to bear; to uphold; to support.
    A foundation sustains the superstructure; an animal sustains a load; a rope sustains a weight.
  8. To aid, comfort, or relieve; to vindicate.
    • c. 1603–1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of King Lear”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iii]:
      When I desir’d their leave that I might pity him, they took from me the use of mine own house, charg’d me on pain of perpetual displeasure neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.
    • The template Template:RQ:Dryden Aeneis does not use the parameter(s):
      Please see Module:checkparams for help with this warning.
      1697, Virgil, “The Sixth Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, lines 1122-1123:
      His Sons, who seek the Tyrant to sustain,
      And long for Arbitrary Lords again,

Derived terms





English Wikipedia has an article on:

sustain (plural sustains)

  1. (music) A mechanism which can be used to hold a note, as the right pedal on a piano.
    • 2011, Chuck Eddy, Rock and Roll Always Forgets, page 265:
      To call this music bland is to ignore the down-the-drain vocal fade-aways, the extended sax sustains []