sub·​con·​tract | \ ˌsəb-ˈkän-ˌtrakt How to pronounce subcontract (audio) \

Definition of subcontract

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a contract between a party to an original contract and a third party especially : one to provide all or a specified part of the work or materials required in the original contract


sub·​con·​tract | \ ˌsəb-ˈkän-ˌtrakt How to pronounce subcontract (audio) , ˌsəb-kən-ˈtrakt \
subcontracted; subcontracting; subcontracts

Definition of subcontract (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to let out or undertake work under a subcontract

transitive verb

1 : to engage a third party to perform under a subcontract all or part of (work included in an original contract) sometimes used with out
2 : to undertake (work) under a subcontract

Examples of subcontract in a Sentence

Verb The large firm subcontracted with a smaller company.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The device was designed by a team at a company called Garrett AiResearch on a subcontract for Grumman, the aircraft manufacturer. Sarah Fallon, Wired, "The Secret History of the First Microprocessor, the F-14, and Me," 23 Dec. 2020 During that period, FireEye landed a subcontract worth more than $30 million with the Army Cyber Command, which had operations at Fort Gordon, in Mr. Perdue’s home state. New York Times, "2,596 Trades in One Term: Inside Senator Perdue’s Stock Portfolio," 2 Dec. 2020 Ward power base for years, is among those identified as getting a ComEd subcontract. Ray Long,, "House Speaker Michael Madigan says it’s not ‘ethically improper’ to find government jobs for people. Here’s what he’s failing to mention.," 2 Oct. 2020 When Beechcraft originally landed its Apollo subcontract, the specifications it was given to build tanks required those tanks to function on 28 volts of DC power, which is what the tanks would be supplied by the Apollo CSM’s on-board power systems. Eric Berger & Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "The Greatest Leap, part 5: Saving the crew of Apollo 13," 11 Apr. 2020 Dozens of other private companies do subcontract work at ICE facilities, running guard services, medical facilities, mental health counseling, food preparation, commissary sales, phone and video communication for detainees and janitorial work. USA Today, "'These people are profitable': Under Trump, private prisons are cashing in on ICE detainees," 20 Dec. 2019 Irked at being barred from joining his peers, the 26-year-old Fairey agreed not to make a fuss if he were given a subcontract for aircraft production that allowed him to form his own company. Eric Tegler, Ars Technica, "The Fairey Rotodyne, the vertical takeoff and landing airliner time forgot," 16 Feb. 2020 The problems began in 2007 when ArmorGroup, a private security company working on a Pentagon subcontract, hired two local warlords on the U.S. intelligence payroll to provide armed guards at an airfield on the western edge of Afghanistan. Brett Murphy, USA Today, "Inside the U.S. military raid against its own security guards that left dozens of Afghan children dead," 30 Dec. 2019 In April 2007, ArmorGroup – a private security company based in London – won a $5.1 million Air Force subcontract to guard construction workers building an expansion of the airfield for the Afghan National Army. Brett Murphy, USA Today, "Inside the U.S. military raid against its own security guards that left dozens of Afghan children dead," 30 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Since then, industry wages have come under pressure amid a push to carry less inventory and to subcontract work to lower-cost middlemen. al, "How Amazon drove Alabama warehouse workers to unionize," 18 Dec. 2020 Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the H-1B program, has also tried to tighten oversight of companies that subcontract H-1B workers. Chase Difeliciantonio,, "Biden could reverse some Trump H-1B policies — but help for visa holders may have to wait," 19 Nov. 2020 As the council debated what to do, airport small business owners who subcontract from the larger companies were caught in the middle. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "Phoenix airport restaurants will get rent relief during travel slowdown. Here's what that means," 8 June 2020 The first priority is to cut back on some temporary and subcontracted workers, including 1,100 in Germany, with similar measures likely in France and the U.K., one of the people said. Charlotte Ryan,, "Airbus to Start Talks With Unions on Permanent Job Cuts," 13 May 2020 The county first subcontracted with Carlsbad, Calif.-based Numi Financial in 2014. oregonlive, "Portland woman went to jail with $30.97 in cash. She’s suing after getting debit card in return loaded with service fees," 20 Mar. 2020 The German government on Wednesday moved to curb a string of Covid-19 outbreaks in slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants, including imposing a ban on subcontracting, tougher inspection regimes and higher fines for breaching the hygiene rules. Bojan Pancevski, WSJ, "Germany Moves to Clean Up Meat Industry Amid Coronavirus Surge," 20 May 2020 Police say the man was a driver for a third-party transport company that subcontracts for Sonora Quest Laboratories, which is one of the first commercial labs that began testing for COVID-19 in Arizona. Christopher Roth, azcentral, "Man accused of stealing coronavirus test kits from Tucson clinic was driver doing his job," 24 Mar. 2020 Lopez-Diaz and some of his co-conspirators are accused of establishing subcontracting companies, hiring unlicensed work crews and paying them cash without putting them on formal payroll systems. oregonlive, "Beaverton man accused in $65 million tax evasion scheme involving construction companies," 14 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subcontract.' 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 subcontract


1660, in the meaning defined above


1842, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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The first known use of subcontract was in 1660

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Last Updated

26 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Subcontract.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for subcontract


How to pronounce subcontract (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of subcontract

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a legal agreement by which you hire another person or company to do part of a job you have been hired to do


How to pronounce subcontract (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of subcontract (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hire another person or company to do part of a job that you have been hired to do


sub·​con·​tract | \ ˌsəb-ˈkän-ˌtrakt How to pronounce subcontract (audio) \

Legal Definition of subcontract

: a contract between a party to an original contract and a third party that assigns part of the performance (as building a house) of the original contract to the third party

Other Words from subcontract

subcontract \ ˌsəb-​ˈkän-​ˌtrakt, -​kən-​ˈtrakt How to pronounce subcontract (audio) \ verb

More from Merriam-Webster on subcontract

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subcontract

Nglish: Translation of subcontract for Spanish Speakers

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