in·​sub·​stan·​tial | \ ˌin(t)-səb-ˈstan(t)-shəl How to pronounce insubstantial (audio) \

Definition of insubstantial

: not substantial: such as
a : lacking substance or material nature
b : lacking firmness or solidity : flimsy

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Other Words from insubstantial

insubstantiality \ ˌin(t)-​səb-​ˌstan(t)-​shē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce insubstantial (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for insubstantial



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Examples of insubstantial in a Sentence

Their contribution to the fund was insubstantial. as insubstantial as a ghost
Recent Examples on the Web One of the worst places to be in politics is offering insubstantial but divisive symbolic gestures to your base on cultural issues. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "House Democrats Vote Today on Slavery Reparations," 14 Apr. 2021 That suggests speculators are paying big money for items so insubstantial that they can hardly be said to really exist. Star Tribune, "An actual investment produces something, and the rest is gambling," 20 Mar. 2021 Not totally insubstantial, more than $100 million, but that’s in a $41.6 billion budget. Cole Lauterbach, Washington Examiner, "Pritzker defends call for federal bailout despite budget surplus," 26 Feb. 2021 Prospective elementary school teachers receive the most academically insubstantial training of any students matriculating on a college or university campus. Gary Marvin Davison, Star Tribune, "Counterpoint: Public school students aren't learning the 'wrong' thing," 17 Feb. 2021 The makers of some of Britain’s oldest comfort foods—long at a disadvantage as the nation looks to slim down—are suddenly talking up the heft of their creations to reduce the risk of being deemed insubstantial. Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, "Forget Brexit and Lockdowns. England Is Debating Pork Pies and Scotch Eggs.," 11 Dec. 2020 Most of the changes the ordinance makes to elections code are insubstantial and help streamline the processes and update language. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage Assembly updates municipal elections code in advance of spring vote," 15 Jan. 2021 But the wilder the charges, the more insubstantial the case appeared. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "A Bogus Dispute Is Doing Real Damage," 19 Nov. 2020 Yet the justices in the Hague dismissed Nottebohm’s ties to Lichtenstein as insubstantial and invalid. Udi Greenberg, The New Republic, "How the World Gave Up on the Stateless," 10 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'insubstantial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of insubstantial

1607, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for insubstantial

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

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Time Traveler for insubstantial

Time Traveler

The first known use of insubstantial was in 1607

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Statistics for insubstantial

Last Updated

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Insubstantial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for insubstantial



English Language Learners Definition of insubstantial

: not large or important
: not strong or solid
: not real : not made of a real substance


in·​sub·​stan·​tial | \ ˌin-səb-ˈstan-chəl How to pronounce insubstantial (audio) \

Kids Definition of insubstantial

: not large or important Her contribution was insubstantial.

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