c. 1300, sustenaunce, "means of living, subsistence, livelihood," especially "food, victuals, that which supports life," from Anglo-French sustenance, sustenaunce, Old French sostenance "support, aid" (Modern French soutenance), from Late Latin sustinentia "endurance," abstract noun from present-participle stem of Latin sustinere "to hold up" (see sustain). Meaning "action of sustaining life by food" is from late 14c.
Related: Sustenant; English 15c.-17c. had sustentacle "that which upholds or supports." Noun of action sustention "act of sustaining" is by 1868. Sustainment "maintenance, support; one who sustains" (mid-15c.) is from Old French soustenement.
updated on September 07, 2022