• IPA: /səbˈsɪst/

subsist (subsists, present participle subsisting; past and past participle subsisted)

  1. To survive on a minimum of resources.
    • 1646, Thomas Browne, “Of the Cameleon”, in Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents, and Commonly Presumed Truths, London: Printed for Tho. Harper for Edvvard Dod, OCLC 838860010 ↗; Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents, and Commonly Presumed Truths. […], 2nd corrected and much enlarged edition, London: Printed by A. Miller, for Edw[ard] Dod and Nath. Ekins, […], 1650, OCLC 152706203 ↗, book 3, page 133 ↗:
      It cannot be denied it [the chameleon#English|chameleon] 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.
  2. (mostly, philosophy) To have ontological reality; to exist.
    • 1734, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Man. […], epistle IV, London: Printed for J[ohn] Wilford, […], OCLC 960856019 ↗, lines 33–36, page 63 ↗:
      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#Noun|state; to continue.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VIII”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗, lines 359–63:
      Firm we ſubſiſt, yet poſſible to ſwerve / Since Reaſon not impoſſibly may meet / Some ſpecious object by the Foe ſubornd, / And fall into deception unaware, / Not keeping ſtricteſt watch, as ſhe was warnd.
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