tr.v. sus·tained, sus·tain·ing, sus·tains
a. To keep in existence; maintain, continue, or prolong: sustain an effort.
b. To keep up (a joke or assumed role, for example) competently.
a. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for: the income needed to sustain a family.
b. To support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage: We were sustained by her unflagging optimism.
3. To support from below; keep from falling or sinking; prop: The beams sustain the weight of the roof.
a. To bear up under; withstand: can't sustain the blistering heat.
b. To experience or suffer: sustained minor injuries.
5. To affirm the validity of: The judge has sustained the prosecutor's objection.
A capacity of a musical instrument to continue the resounding of a note or tone.
[Middle English sustenen, from Old French sustenir, from Latin sustinēre : sub-, from below; see SUB- + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.