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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
In Dominus Iesus (2000) the CDF gave an explanation of "subsists in" significantly different from the one it gave in 1985.
subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time" (Unitatis redintegratio no.
Understanding "subsists in" to mean "continues to exist in," one can also say that the church of Christ subsists--though not fully--in the Orthodox churches.
In Responses to Some Questions, issued in summer 2007, the CDF returned to the question of the meaning of "subsists in." The second question to which it responded is, What is the meaning of the affirmation that the church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?
In this explanation of "subsists in," it seems to me that the CDF has conflated the two meanings discussed above.
As I noted above, when the word "subsists" is understood to mean "continues to exist," one can say that the church of Christ subsists, though not fully, in the Orthodox churches, for the reason that since they are "true particular churches," the church of Christ must continue to exist in them.
For these things, which have descended by tajall--and even after their descent remain within the scope (iah) of the origin and subsist in its continuous presence--do not possess anything that the origin lacks.
Similarly, man too can only rise and subsist by taking the hand of God and being connected to Him.
Delfin Lee still subsists in light of our pending petition before the Supreme Court questioning the CA's decision quashing said warrant."
This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him."
Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe ...
Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?
* The one Church of Christ, through which he continues his presence and work of salvation, "subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."
In discussing what it described as the essential role of the Church in salvation, the document also touches on the ecumenical issue when it states that "there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."
It notes that the Second Vatican Council also recognized that outside the Church's structure "many elements can be found of sanctification and truth." But it would be wrong to conclude from this that "the one Church of Christ could subsist also in non-Catholic Churches."