Etymology
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subsistence (n.)

early 15c., "existence, independence," from Late Latin subsistentia "substance, reality," in Medieval Latin also "stability," from Latin subsistens, present participle of subsistere "stand still or firm" (see subsist). Latin subsistentia is a loan-translation of Greek hypostasis "foundation, substance, real nature, subject matter; that which settles at the bottom, sediment," literally "anything set under." In the English word, meaning "act or process of support for physical life" is from 1640s.

updated on December 19, 2013

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Definitions of subsistence from WordNet

subsistence (n.)
minimal (or marginal) resources for subsisting;
social security provided only a bare subsistence
subsistence (n.)
a means of surviving;
farming is a hard means of subsistence
subsistence (n.)
the state of existing in reality; having substance;
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.