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

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Examples of subcontract in a Sentence


The large firm subcontracted with a smaller company.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Those employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause are required to enroll as a condition of federal contracting. Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News, "Mollie Tibbetts murder suspect, illegal immigrant Cristhian Rivera, allegedly passed E-Verify system," 22 Aug. 2018 Companies also are required to provide evidence of a commitment to subcontract 25 percent or more of the total dollar amount of all subcontracts to businesses that meet the two criteria. Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Land Bank may ask state for help to increase diversity in contracts," 9 July 2018 Print subscribers get a password for your existing account here Richard Perez, president of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, has framed the RK Group’s subcontract in the desert outside El Paso as practically a humanitarian calling. Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, "Chambers split on RK Group subcontract," 2 July 2018 While serving as an informal adviser, Mr. Freedman continued working as a subcontract consultant with the United States Navy and a special government employee with the United States Army, while also running Global Impact. New York Times, "Meet the Members of the ‘Shadow N.S.C.’ Advising John Bolton," 21 May 2018 Its initiative is aimed at uncovering any undisclosed side deals or subcontracts and whether any third parties act as pay-to-play gatekeepers for public contracts, the people said. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy Advisers Could Get Closer Scrutiny," 9 May 2018 But that would not have come with a big Chinese loan or the cash that was splashed out on subcontracts and the land purchases needed for the new line. The Economist, "Loans, trains and automobilesDid Kenya get a loan to build a railway, or vice versa?," 22 Mar. 2018 At the half-day session — from 8 a.m. to noon — local businesses will be made aware of opportunities to bid for subcontracts for work on Fermilab projects. Staff Report, Aurora Beacon-News, "Fine Arts Festival set at West Aurora High School," 9 Feb. 2018 Almost all the work that Carillion won was outsourced to subcontractors, who would often sub-subcontract it in turn. The Economist, "Cleaned outWhere did Carillion go wrong?," 18 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

They were born subcontracted in a way that really portends the way that corporations are organized today. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: ‘Temp’ author Louis Hyman on Recode Decode," 29 Aug. 2018 Contracted companies, after taking a cut of the budget, subcontracted local outfits that used cheap, inferior material that could not withstand winter temperatures and constant truck traffic. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "Corruption at 13,000 feet: Afghanistan struggles to maintain a treacherous mountain trade route," 22 Jan. 2018 Others work for private courier companies that are subcontracted by Amazon. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Amazon is cutting costs with its own delivery service — but its drivers don’t receive benefits," 26 Dec. 2018 The union demands include tighter restrictions on subcontracting out work, higher wage increases and eliminating restrictions on qualifying for pension and vacation benefits. Paul Ziobro, WSJ, "UPS Tells Shippers to Prepare for Freight Strike," 1 Nov. 2018 The Defense Department subcontracts troop and cargo flying to private airlines in return for an agreement by those carriers to make planes available at short notice in the event of a national emergency. Doug Cameron, WSJ, "Air Transport Services Group Buys Charter Airline for $845 Million," 2 Oct. 2018 The detention center is operated by CoreCivic, which subcontracts with Eloy for the services. Fox News, "Claim involves death of child after stay in detention center," 30 Aug. 2018 The Teamsters demanded changes to items, including the amount of work that could be subcontracted, wages and restrictions on qualifying for pension and vacation benefits. Paul Ziobro, WSJ, "UPS Averts Freight Strike as Teamsters Ratify New Contract," 11 Nov. 2018 The National Labor Relations Board has rewritten its joint employer standard, a move that would ease the rule’s impact on companies including franchise owners and businesses that subcontract work to others. Joyce M. Rosenberg, The Seattle Times, "NLRB proposes new joint employer standard," 17 Sep. 2018

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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Time Traveler for subcontract

The first known use of subcontract was in 1660

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More Definitions for subcontract



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



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on subcontract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subcontract

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subcontract

Spanish Central: Translation of subcontract

Nglish: Translation of subcontract for Spanish Speakers

Comments on subcontract

What made you want to look up subcontract? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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