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


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sustain (plural sustains)

  1. (music) A mechanism which can be used to hold a note, as the right pedal on a piano.


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

  1. (transitive) To maintain, or keep in existence.
  2. (transitive) To provide for or nourish.
    provisions to sustain an army
  3. (transitive) To encourage (something).
  4. (transitive) To experience or suffer (an injury, etc.).
    • Dryden
      Shall Turnus, then, such endless toil sustain?
    • Shakespeare
      You shall sustain more new disgraces.
  5. (transitive) To confirm, prove, or corroborate.
    to sustain a charge, an accusation, or a proposition
  6. 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.
  7. To aid, comfort, or relieve; to vindicate.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
    • Dryden
      his sons, who seek the tyrant to sustain

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