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The word sustain and its family (sustainable, sustainability, sustained, sustaining, sustains, sustenance, unsustainable) are included in the Academic Word List by Dr. Averil Coxhead, which contains the 570 most frequent word families used in academic texts from a variety of subject areas, of interest for students that learn the words most needed to study at tertiary institutions.

Definition of the noun sustain

What does sustain mean as a name of something?


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

Definition of the verb sustain

What does sustain mean as a doing word?

Sustain is one of the top 1000 most common verbs in the English language.

verb - inflections: sustained | sustaining | sustains

  1. lengthen or extend in duration or space
    • example: We sustained the diplomatic negotiations as long as possible
    • lexical domain: Stative - verbs of being, having, spatial relations
    • synonyms of sustain: keep up / prolong
    • more generic terms: bear on / carry on / continue / preserve / uphold = keep or maintain in unaltered condition
    • more specific terms: continue / keep on / retain / keep = allow to remain in a place or position or maintain a property or feature
  2. undergo (as of injuries and illnesses)
  3. provide with nourishment
    • example: We sustained ourselves on bread and water
    • lexical domain: Consumption - verbs of eating and drinking
    • synonyms of sustain: nourish / nurture
    • more generic words: cater / ply / provide / supply = give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance
    • more specific word: carry = be able to feed
  4. supply with necessities and support
    • examples: She alone sustained her family | The money will sustain our good cause
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme]They maintained a strong government
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme] through [Instrument, arbitrary control with -ing]They maintained a strong government through ruthlessly crushing opponents
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme] through [Instrument, not sentential clause]I maintained a strong government through ruthless domination

      Aspectual Verbs (with the same syntax): carry on, continue, keep, keep up, maintain, prolong, protract.

    • lexical domain: Consumption - verbs of eating and drinking
    • synonyms of sustain: keep / maintain
    • more generic terms: have / have got / hold = have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense
    • more specific words:
      • patronage = support by being a patron of
      • reseed = maintain by seeding without human intervention
      • carry = keep up with financial support
  5. be the physical support of; carry the weight of
    • lexical domain: Contact - verbs of touching, hitting, tying, digging
    • synonyms of sustain: hold / hold up / support
    • more specific terms:
      • scaffold = provide with a scaffold for support
      • block = support, secure, or raise with a block
      • carry = bear or be able to bear the weight, pressure,or responsibility of
      • chock = support on chocks
      • buoy up / buoy = keep afloat
      • pole = support on poles
      • bracket = support with brackets
      • underpin = support from beneath
      • shore up / prop up / shore / prop = support by placing against something solid or rigid
      • truss = support structurally
      • brace = support by bracing
  6. admit as valid
    • example: The court sustained the motion
    • lexical domain: Communication - verbs of telling, asking, ordering, singing
    • more generic words: acknowledge / admit = declare to be true or admit the existence or reality or truth of
  7. establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts

Alternative definition of the verb sustain


  1. [transitive] To maintain (something), or keep it in existence.
  2. [transitive] To provide for or nourish (something).
  3. [transitive] To encourage (something).
  4. [transitive] To experience or suffer (an injury, etc.).
  5. [transitive] To confirm, prove, or corroborate (something).


  1. "Sustain" is the fifth studio album from Buck-O-Nine and was released in the United States on August 7, 2007 on Asian Man Records and in Canada on September 6, 2007 by Stomp Records.
    • genre: Ska punk
    • released on (8 years ago)
  2. "Sustain" is a musical album of Mat Maneri.
    • released on (12 years ago)
  3. "Sustain" is a composition.
  4. "Sustain" is a musical album of Daytona.
  5. "Sustain" is a musical album of Tone.
    • released in (19 years ago)
  6. "Sustain" is a musical EP of Steinbr├╝chel.
    • released on (7 years ago)
  7. "Sustain" is a musical EP of Lusine ICL.
    • released in (13 years ago)


  1. Sustain: In music, sustain is a parameter of musical sound over time. As its name implies, it denotes the period of time during which the sound remains before it becomes inaudible, or silent.
  2. SUSTAIN: Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion or SUSTAIN is a concept first proposed in 2002 by the United States Marine Corps to deploy Marines via spaceflight to any location on Earth.

Printed dictionaries and other books with definitions for Sustain

Click on a title to look inside that book (if available):

Google previewThe Synthesizer (2014)

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Programming, Playing, and Recording the Ultimate Electronic Music Instrument by Mark Vail

Whereas attack, decay, and release are time-based, sustain is a level. attack, decay, sustain, and release (ADSR): parameters found in one of the most familiar types of envelope generators; whereas the attack, decay, and release parameters ...

Google previewQuality Improvement in Neonatal and Perinatal Medicine, An Issue of Clinics in Perinatology (2010)

by Alan R. Spitzer, Dan Ellsbury

Sustain refers to the need for 5-S methods to become an integral and deep- rooted part of the organization, not a transient fad. This result can be achieved through promotional and communication campaigns in the organization, and through ...

Google previewLearning From World Class Manufacturers (2012)

by M. Szwejczewski, M. Jones

Sustain is the processof maintaining standards through ongoing audits. Many companies have used 5Sasa foundation fortheir improvement effortsas an uncluttered, organised workplace makes work easierand also promotes the discipline of ...

Google previewAudio Production Worktext (2013)

Concepts, Techniques, and Equipment by Sam Sauls, Craig Stark

Sustain is the time a sound holds its volume. (Reread 2.14.) No.

Google previewMOVED TO CREATE (2013)

We are always creating Now we can create consciously by Julie Delene

SUSTAIN is the phase when you practice and maintain your efforts through structure and support. The element of earth represents grounding, giving you an overall sense of well-being. Indian summer is the time for the harvest, completion, and ...

Google previewYour Personal Tuning Fork (2012)

The Endocrine System by Deborah Bates

The word sustain means to 'holdup, endure.' Andso, sustainable health isto hold upin endurance as a state of being, whole or well or that whichisholy and sacred. Now that's profound! Longevity, Wellbeing and Those Sneaky Disturbances ...

Google previewCommunity Practice in the Network Society (2004)

Local Action / Global Interaction by Director and Fullerian Professor of Chemistry Peter Day, Peter Day, Doug Schuler

html 7 Sustain is the UK-based alliance for better food and farming.

Google previewThe Audio Dictionary (2011)

Third Edition, Revised and Expanded by Glenn D. White, Gary J. Louie

ADSR Short for Attack Decay Sustain Release. It is the time constants associated with signals generated by electronic music synthesizers. The attack time is the time it takes the signal level to rise from zero to its maximum value. The decay ...

Google previewThe American and English Encyclopedia of Law (1893)

by John Houston Merrill, Charles Frederic Williams, Thomas Johnson Michie, David Shephard Garland

and to establish a charter therefor," is sufficient to sustain a provision authorizing the town of B. to issue negotiable bonds for certain specified purposes. Judson v. Bessemer, 87 Ala. 240.

Google previewFowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage (2015)

by Henry Watson Fowler, Jeremy Butterfield

sustain (verb). This old verb, taken into the language from Old French in the 13c., ...

Online dictionaries and encyclopedias with entries for Sustain

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Usage statistics about sustain

The following statistics are based on the British National Corpus, so they are representative for the British English from the later part of the 20th century, both spoken and written.

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the verb sustain:


Photos about Sustain

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Photo credit: John of Austin

If you need related images for an article or a report, you can download stock photos:
Small photo of Bodhi and crutches , according to the Buddhists belief in helping to sustain life in the Songkran festival, the culture of Chiang Mai, Thailand.Small photo of Young seedlings growing on a stump and sun to sustain life.Small photo of Two hands that sustain the tree.Small photo of Competition of pine trees To sunlight necessary to sustain life. More...

Video language resources about Sustain

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See also the pronunciation examples of Sustain!

Quotes about Sustain

Opinion has a significance proportioned to the sources that sustain it. (Benjamin Cardozo)
more quotes about sustain...

Scrabble value of S1U1S1T1A1I1N1

The value of this 7-letter word is 7 points. It is included in the first and second editions of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Anagrams of SUSTAIN

What do you get if you rearrange the letters?

See also the blanagrams of Sustain!

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