Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

sustain - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb [transitive] sustain pronunciation in American English /səˈsteɪn/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlesustaining
past tensesustained
past participlesustained
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    to provide the conditions in which something can happen or exist

    Only two of the planets could sustain life.

  2. 2
    formal to give someone strength, energy, or hope

    Throughout the trial he was sustained by the support of his family.

    A cup of coffee isn’t enough to sustain you until lunchtime.

  3. 3
    formal to support or prove an idea, statement, theory, etc.
    1. a.
      legal to agree that a decision, law, etc. is based on good legal principles

sea lion

in an online conversation, repeatedly asking a person questions which suggest that you are interested in what they are talking about, but are actually intended to annoy them

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an electric skateboard

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play