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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.