sub·​cul·​ture | \ ˈsəb-ˌkəl-chər How to pronounce subculture (audio) \

Definition of subculture

1a : a culture (as of bacteria) derived from another culture
b : an act or instance of producing a subculture
2 : an ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society a criminal subculture

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Other Words from subculture

subcultural \ ˌsəb-​ˈkəlch-​rəl How to pronounce subculture (audio) , -​ˈkəl-​chə-​ \ adjective
subculturally adverb
subculture transitive verb

Examples of subculture in a Sentence

a subculture of local painters a subculture of poverty and crime
Recent Examples on the Web Suffolk County is now the nexus of an aging subculture’s social world and where its remaining members go to buy and sell pigeons. New York Times, "Pigeon Guys Face Tough Times: ‘Who Has the Money? Who Has the Roof?’," 18 Feb. 2021 Those tasked with combating those account takeovers cite the toxic online subculture that not only abets but encourages it. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "A Coordinated Takedown Targets 'OGUser' Account Thieves," 4 Feb. 2021 Trump has embraced a violent subculture, only more so since losing the election, that so happens to be inside the mainstream of the American story thus far. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "This Isn’t an Insurrection. It’s an Alliance.," 6 Jan. 2021 The scores who wear bespoke red suits are part of a thriving subculture complete with its own lingo, customs and even oaths. Washington Post, "The Santa who sounded the alarm," 19 Dec. 2020 Recent reporting, for example, called attention to a subculture on TikTok, a popular video-sharing app, in which users support anorexia and bulimia. Sammy Gibbons, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Terms like the 'quarantine 15' are helping drive an influx of new patients to Wisconsin eating disorder clinics," 5 Nov. 2020 Liberals will link the problem to mandatory celibacy for priests; conservatives will complain about a gay subculture in the clergy. Michael Mcgough Los Angeles Times (tns), Star Tribune, "McCarrick scandal shows the church has more to face than pedophilia," 19 Nov. 2020 The former refers to what a particular subculture considers cool but the general population hasn’t adopted. Marc Bain, Quartz, "Can Supreme survive its acquisition by VF Corp?," 10 Nov. 2020 Religious studies scholar Joseph Laycock has written about how some aspects of the emerging UFO subculture blended scientific and supernaturalist theories, bringing together religion and conspiratorial thinking. Ben Zeller, CNN, "What the rise of this '70s cult says about American culture," 3 Dec. 2020

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

1885, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for subculture

Time Traveler

The first known use of subculture was in 1885

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Statistics for subculture

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subculture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for subculture



English Language Learners Definition of subculture

: a group that has beliefs and behaviors that are different from the main groups within a culture or society


sub·​cul·​ture | \ ˈsəb-ˌkəl-chər How to pronounce subculture (audio) \

Medical Definition of subculture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a culture (as of bacteria) derived from another culture
2 : an act or instance of producing a subculture

Other Words from subculture

subcultural \ -​ˈkəlch-​(ə-​)rəl How to pronounce subculture (audio) \ adjective
subculturally \ -​ē How to pronounce subculture (audio) \ adverb


transitive verb
subcultured; subculturing

Medical Definition of subculture (Entry 2 of 2)

: to culture (as bacteria) anew on a fresh medium by inoculation from an older culture

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