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.
    • 1650, Thomas Browne, “Of the Cameleon”, in Pseudodoxia Epidemica: [], 2nd edition, London: [] A. Miller, for Edw[ard] Dod and Nath[aniel] Ekins, [], OCLC 152706203, 3rd book, page 133:
      It cannot be denied it 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.
    • 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.
  3. To retain a certain state; to continue.

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