Meaning of “sustain” in the English Dictionary

"sustain" in British English

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sustainverb [ T ]

uk /səˈsteɪn/ us /səˈsteɪn/

sustain verb [ T ] (CONTINUE)

C2 to cause or allow something to continue for a period of time:

The economy looks set to sustain its growth into next year.
He seems to find it difficult to sustain relationships with women.
US The judge sustained (= accepted) the lawyer's objection.

C2 to keep alive:

The soil in this part of the world is not rich enough to sustain a large population.

More examples

  • It proved particularly difficult to sustain the interest of the older children.
  • This year's harvest is insufficient to sustain a growing population.
  • Economic growth cannot be sustained without a rise in inflation.
  • This planet is unable to sustain human or plant life.
  • The team were finally victorious after a sustained effort to succeed.

(Definition of “sustain” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"sustain" in American English

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sustainverb [ T ]

us /səˈsteɪn/

sustain verb [ T ] (MAINTAIN)

to keep something in operation; maintain:

It is hard to see what will sustain them when they have no income.

sustain verb [ T ] (SUFFER)

fml to suffer or experience damage or loss:

She sustained serious injuries in the accident.

sustain verb [ T ] (SUPPORT)

to support someone emotionally:

Throughout the ordeal, he was sustained by the belief that he would get home.

(Definition of “sustain” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"sustain" in Business English

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sustainverb [ T ]

uk /səˈsteɪn/ us

to make or allow something to continue for a period of time:

The board accepted that the growth rates could not be sustained indefinitely.

to experience loss, injury, or damage:

As a result of the oil spill, BP sustained heavy losses.
The port sustained severe damage in the storm.

to provide support for an idea, statement, legal argument, etc.:

The data meant the government could not sustain its argument that lower duty on fuel would lead to lower spending on schools and hospitals.
Only in one case could the auditors find evidence to sustain a claim of criminal behaviour.

(Definition of “sustain” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)