sub·​set | \ ˈsəb-ˌset \

Definition of subset

1 : a set each of whose elements is an element of an inclusive set
2 : division, portion a subset of our community

Examples of subset in a Sentence

The set {1,2,3} is a subset of the set {1,2,3,4,5}. Only a small subset of the patients in the study experienced these side effects.

Recent Examples on the Web

Welcome to the world of Outlander, in which a certain subset of the population can travel through time with the help of specific prehistoric monuments. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Caitriona Balfe Is Evolving with Outlander," 31 Dec. 2018 Many jobs in the gig economy were a subset of these jobs. Josh Zumbrun, WSJ, "How Estimates of the Gig Economy Went Wrong," 7 Jan. 2019 That leaves only 10 to 30 percent for physical activity, of which exercise is only a subset. Julia Belluz, Vox, "The science is in: exercise won’t help you lose much weight," 2 Jan. 2019 With the reinsurance subsidy, which covers the government’s share of spending on a subset of patients with extremely high drug costs, Medicare bears all the risk for a wrong guess. Christopher Weaver, WSJ, "The $9 Billion Upcharge: How Insurers Kept Extra Cash From Medicare," 4 Jan. 2019 In September, after eight months of negotiations over a possible interview with Trump, the two sides agreed that Mueller would accept written answers to a subset of questions as a partial first step. Matt Zapotosky, The Seattle Times, "With the midterms over, special counsel Mueller faces key decisions in Russia investigation," 7 Nov. 2018 Still, any plan to impose tariffs — even on just a subset of Chinese products — could restart a trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Alan Rappeport, New York Times, "Trump Expected to List China Tariffs, Potentially Reigniting Trade War," 14 June 2018 The decision was controversial in part because the FDA noted that clinical benefits of the drug — aimed at a subset of people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy — were not yet established. NBC News, "Patient advocacy groups take in millions from drugmakers. Is there a payback?," 8 Apr. 2018 And 2017 stats from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery show that nearly 47 percent of all breast augmentations, 55 percent of labiaplasties, and 20 percent of tummy tucks were had by this subset of patients. Jolene Edgar, Allure, "Life in Plastic: A Complete Guide to the "Mommy Makeover"," 16 July 2018

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

1881, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for subset

Last Updated

14 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for subset

The first known use of subset was in 1881

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More Definitions for subset



English Language Learners Definition of subset

technical : a group of things, people, etc., that is part of a larger group


sub·​set | \ ˈsəb-ˌset \

Kids Definition of subset

: a small division or portion

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More from Merriam-Webster on subset

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subset

Nglish: Translation of subset for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on subset

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


excited commotion or publicity

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