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

Verb The large firm subcontracted with a smaller company.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Skanska, the construction firm behind New York’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub and Oculus, won the $189 million subcontract to furnish the structural steel. John Brant, Popular Mechanics, "It Was Supposed to Be the Safest Building in the World. Then It Cracked.," 25 Oct. 2019 USA Roofing won the roof subcontract with Panzica around the time Petsche was running for and was elected to council. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Ohio Ethics Commission refers investigation of Brecksville Councilman Jack Petsche to prosecutor," 16 Oct. 2019 Pacifica Services also had a subcontract with Jacobs Engineering, which involved a plan to build a new Los Angeles county jail. Los Angeles Times, "California high-speed rail board member under investigation for potential conflict," 25 Sep. 2019 Cryor tapped his business contacts to identify $1.8 billion in federal contracts and subcontracts that could create jobs for poor residents with high school diplomas. Erin Cox, Washington Post, "Years before Trump’s attacks, Freddie Gray’s death sparked a huge effort to heal Baltimore. It wasn’t enough.," 1 Aug. 2019 According to the Land Bank, demolition contractors directly subcontract with abatement companies, who in turn subcontract air monitoring work. Kat Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Three companies suspended from Detroit's demolition program," 24 July 2019 The committee is requesting documents pertaining to contracts and subcontracts with state, local and federal governments; the average number of people kept at each facility every day and each month; and the cost and profit revenue of each contract. NBC News, "House Democrats seek documents from for-profit companies detaining migrants," 11 July 2019 Contracts and subcontracts for Lockheed’s F-35, for example, are spread across 307 congressional districts in forty-five states, thus ensuring the fealty of a commensurate number of congresspeople as well as ninety senators. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's magazine, "The Military-Industrial Virus," 10 June 2019 Among other features familiar to any student of the defense industry, the program relied heavily on outsourcing subcontracts to foreign countries as a means of locking in foreign buyers. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's magazine, "The Military-Industrial Virus," 10 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The substitute teacher, who was subcontracted by the Utah school district through Kelly Services, was fired. Marianne Garvey, CNN, "Louis van Amstel says son bullied by teacher for having two dads," 2 Dec. 2019 White was working for a company that was subcontracted by the company listed on the van and was recognized in the surveillance video by staff. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Milwaukee man stole over $2,300 worth of equipment from Cudahy Department of Public Works, police say," 2 Oct. 2019 However, due to many limitations either in expertise or capacity, the authority subcontracted with hundreds of civilian companies in return for a margin of profit. Washington Post, "Egypt’s el-Sissi dismisses corruption allegations," 14 Sep. 2019 Protesters are calling on the airline to provide a $15 minimum wage to its employees and the workers who are subcontracted with United. Erin Douglas, Houston Chronicle, "Houston-area airport workers, union to protest United Airlines, demand $15 an hour," 13 Sep. 2019 The county oversaw the project and subcontracted AE Engineering to inspect it. Brooke Baitinger,, "The Camino Real bridge project cost millions and took months to repair. It still doesn’t work properly.," 30 Aug. 2019 Amazon subcontracts flying between its U.S. fulfillment centers, as well as ground handling and maintenance services. Alison Sider, WSJ, "Plane Flying Cargo for Amazon Crashes in Texas," 23 Feb. 2019 She and her attorney Blake Dolman said LogistiCare subcontracts the patient ride service to Ready2Transport. Linda Trischitta,, "Disabled woman left locked in stuffy van for more than four hours, police say," 16 Aug. 2019 By the mid-2000s, food was being subcontracted to an outside caterer. Jamie Feldmar, Los Angeles Times, "And for the Magic Castle’s next trick: Food that’s worth talking about," 25 July 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of subcontract was in 1660

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Statistics for subcontract

Last Updated

23 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Subcontract.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 16 December 2019.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on subcontract

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subcontract

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subcontract

Spanish Central: Translation of subcontract

Nglish: Translation of subcontract for Spanish Speakers

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