1. To keep from falling; to bear; to uphold; to support; as, a foundation sustains the superstructure; a beast sustains a load; a rope sustains a weight. "Every pillar the temple to sustain." (Chaucer)
2. Hence, to keep from sinking, as in despondence, or the like; to support. "No comfortable expectations of another life to sustain him under the evils in this world." (Tillotson)
3. To maintain; to keep alive; to support; to subsist; to nourish; as, provisions to sustain an army.
4. To aid, comfort, or relieve; to vindicate. "His sons, who seek the tyrant to sustain." (Dryden)
5. To endure without failing or yielding; to bear up under; as, to sustain defeat and disappointment.
6. To suffer; to bear; to undergo. "Shall Turnus, then, such endless toil sustain?" (Dryden) "You shall sustain more new disgraces." (Shak)
7. To allow the prosecution of; to admit as valid; to sanction; to continue; not to dismiss or abate; as, the court sustained the action or suit.
8. To prove; to establish by evidence; to corroborate or confirm; to be conclusive of; as, to sustain a charge, an accusation, or a proposition.
Synonyms: To support, uphold, subsist, assist, relieve, suffer, undergo.
Origin: OE. Sustenen, susteinen, OF. Sustenir, sostenir, F. Soutenir (the French prefix is properly fr. L. Subtus below, fr. Sub under), L. Sustinere; pref. Sus- (see Sub-) + tenere to hold. See Tenable, and cf. Sustenance.
(01 Mar 1998)