sub·​cul·​ture | \ˈsəb-ˌkəl-chər \

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 , -​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

Lately, a wave of stylishly sullen young artists, many in rap, has excavated the painfully unhip, angsty subcultures of the 1990s and 2000s. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Linkin Park Gave to Pop Music," 25 June 2018 The British mod subculture of the mid-60s had been reheated once already with Franc Roddam's movie Quadrophenia (1979) and new wave bands like the Jam when Moritsugu got to it in the early 90s. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "Mod Fuck Explosion: Stuck in the past, ahead of its time," 9 May 2018 Plus, as anyone who’s spent time in them discovers, nerd subcultures can be some of the most toxic places in existence. Simon Abrams, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dissecting 'Ready Player One' and Its Biggest Problem," 1 Apr. 2018 Like some real-life martial artists, gamers in this subculture often look on tournaments as corruptions of their art that prioritize victory over mastery. Chris Goto-jones, The Atlantic, "Practicing for Enlightenment With Video Games," 27 Mar. 2018 No one was getting any money then, so these guys were risking their lives to get their name out into the subculture. Cole Louison, GQ, "Agenda Trade Show Founder Aaron Levant's Long, Strange Trip," 3 Apr. 2018 The tour, which melded ska, punk, skating and other DIY subcultures in a wave of camaraderie, volume and sweat, has been going every summer since 1995. John Adamian,, "Britney Spears, Tory Lanez, Kimya Dawson: Seven Concert Highlights," 7 July 2018 What to watch Paris is Burning is Jennie Livingston’s 1991 documentary about the subculture of black and Latinx gay men and transgender women who competed in drag balls in New York City in the late 1980s. Noel Murray, The Verge, "Get ready for Ryan Murphy’s Pose by watching Paris is Burning this weekend," 1 June 2018 Matching tattoos have long been part of a fraternity subculture in the Sheriff’s Department, dating at least to 1971 with the Little Devils at the East Los Angeles station. Joel Rubin,, "After decades of problems, new allegations surface of a secret clique within L.A. County Sheriff's Department," 10 July 2018

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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Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for subculture

The first known use of subculture was in 1885

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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 \

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 \ adjective
subculturally \ -​ē \ 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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More from Merriam-Webster on subculture

Spanish Central: Translation of subculture

Nglish: Translation of subculture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subculture for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about subculture

Comments on subculture

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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