Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Wikipedia.
Related to subsist: vagrant

subsist on (something)

1. To manage to survive on something as the sole or primary source of food. The unique creature has evolved to subsist on tiny organism carried by the stream into its ever-open mouth. When I was in college, I was so broke that I subsisted on nothing but rice, beans, and ramen noodles.
2. To eke out a living on something or some amount of money. I just can't subsist on the amount of money you're paying me, so I'll have to start looking for other work. I think you should go back to work, John, because the family can't subsist on my job alone anymore.
See also: on, subsist

subsist on something

to exist on something; to stay alive on something. We can barely subsist on this amount of money. We need more! They are able to do no more than subsist on what Mrs. Harris is paid.
See also: on, subsist

subsist on

To survive by using something as a source of food: The people of the war-torn region subsisted on bread, water, and cheese for several months.
See also: on, subsist
References in periodicals archive ?
There is a similarly qualified use of "subsists " in the Decree on Ecumenism, where the council says that the Anglican Communion occupies a special place "among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions continue in part to subsist.
The Qur'an echoes this truth by, on the one hand, emphasizing God's omni-presence and immanence, while on the other, refuting the idea that God is rank and file with other things and that He subsists alongside the things that have effused from Himself.
He reminds aspiring researchers also that neither geographers nor historians can subsist on theory and methodology alone; they must still fix their attention on hard nuggets of historical evidence.
Many of them don't have the basic necessities needed to survive in the stylistic rat-race--MTV and Details magazine--and subsist only on a primitive diet of network television and used copies of Time.
As Justice gives every Man a Title to the product of his honest Industry, and the fair Acquisitions of his Ancestors descended to him; so Charity gives every man a title to so much of another's Plenty, as will keep him from extream want, where he has no means to subsist otherwise.
Stories To Watch on DailyFX - The dollar is finding strength from growth forecasts and a safe haven title; but how long can this move subsist as the fundamental outlook dims.
Adults subsist mostly on nectar and save the protein-rich pollen as food for immature bees.
While O'Brien demonstrates that many Natives did not practice English-style agriculture, she does not really tell how they did subsist.
But it would be wrong to conclude from this that "the one Church of Christ could subsist also in non-Catholic Churches.
But even in the driest dirt, Freckman found surprising numbers of microscopic roundworms, called nematodes, that subsist on bacteria and yeast in the soils.