Subsistence means the minimal resources that are necessary for survival. If you work for subsistence, you'll probably receive food, water, and lodging (internet access not included).

Subsistence can be used in a variety of subtly different ways. In addition to referring to necessities for survival, it can indicate one's means of obtaining those necessities (usually a job). And if you feel like getting philosophical, subsistence can refer to the very act of existence itself.

Definitions of subsistence

n a means of surviving

“farming is a hard means of subsistence
Type of:
endurance, survival
a state of surviving; remaining alive

n minimal (or marginal) resources for subsisting

“social security provided only a bare subsistence
Type of:
bread and butter, keep, livelihood, living, support, sustenance
the financial means whereby one lives

n the state of existing in reality; having substance

Type of:
being, beingness, existence
the state or fact of existing

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