in·​sub·​stan·​tial ˌin(t)-səb-ˈstan(t)-shəl How to pronounce insubstantial (audio)
: not substantial: such as
: lacking substance or material nature
: lacking firmness or solidity : flimsy

Examples of insubstantial in a Sentence

Their contribution to the fund was insubstantial. as insubstantial as a ghost
Recent Examples on the Web Solid and permanent meets insubstantial and illusory — and voilà! Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 Unlike down's other stand-in, foam (which tends to hold its shape well, but can feel light and insubstantial, says Cutler), down alternatives are a hypoallergenic, synthetic option that mimics the durability, softness, and look of down. Michelle Rostamian, Peoplemag, 29 Aug. 2023 Disappointingly, the metal switches feel insubstantial when operated, as does the rotary R/N/D direction selector, but your fingers need to explore the lower reaches of the dashboard and seat bases to find any cheap-feeling plastics. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 24 Aug. 2023 But Indonesia’s democracy can nevertheless feel rather hollow or insubstantial. Krithika Varagur, Foreign Affairs, 20 Dec. 2022 Well off of all-time highs, equity prices that represent a look into the future so far signal not insubstantial market skepticism. John Tamny, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2023 Down 1 Write about introduction of old menial worker (4) 2 Slayer’s activity: jamming without backing instruments (5,5) 3 Probably in search of absorbing, insubstantial bit of knowledge (1,5,2) 4 Staff maintains orange watercraft (5) 5 Broken clarinet holding a note finally? Trip Payne, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2023 Thus, Meta laid off 11,000 workers in a month – a small portion of its payroll, but not an insubstantial number. - Powering A Personal Wealth Movement, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2023 This is not an insubstantial simplification, and those infrared complications were a major contributor to JWST’s infamous cost and scheduling overruns. Korey Haynes, Discover Magazine, 13 June 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'insubstantial.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably from French insubstantiel, from Late Latin insubstantialis, from Latin in- + Late Latin substantialis substantial

First Known Use

1607, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of insubstantial was in 1607

Dictionary Entries Near insubstantial

Cite this Entry

“Insubstantial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​sub·​stan·​tial ˌin(t)-səb-ˈstan-chəl How to pronounce insubstantial (audio)
: not substantial: as
: not real : imaginary
insubstantial differences
: not firm or solid
a flimsy insubstantial shelf
insubstantiality noun

More from Merriam-Webster on insubstantial

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