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sub·​soil ˈsəb-ˌsȯi(-ə)l How to pronounce subsoil (audio)
: the stratum of weathered material that underlies the surface soil


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subsoiled; subsoiling; subsoils

transitive verb

: to turn, break, or stir the subsoil of
subsoiler noun

Examples of subsoil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
But crops like hay and pasture grasses rely on subsoil moisture, which have been the most affected by the drought. Time, 11 Aug. 2023 Water level in the subsoil has dropped 25 feet since 2016. Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2022 Consecutive years of bone-dry weather and stretches of triple-digit heat left little of the subsoil moisture that usually builds up over winter and sustains cotton plants when rain is sparse. Ryan Dezember, WSJ, 16 Aug. 2022 Until recently, the site had been deepfrozen in the subsoil known as permafrost. New York Times, 2 Nov. 2021 In villages, locals who previously stored meat and other perishables in cellars dug deep into the ground now must use ordinary deep freezers because of waterlogged subsoil. Georgi Kantchev, WSJ, 5 Oct. 2021 Remedy heavy clay soil, hard packed subsoil or fast-draining sand by layering on four or more inches of coarse, wood mulch or arborist chips (ground-up trees) that are 1 inch or smaller. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Oct. 2021 The rationale was that this laborious spadework brought loamy topsoil down to subsoil level to promote deep rooting, relieved soil compaction and allowed the gardener to improve both sandy and clay soils by adding compost. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 14 July 2021 Some foundations penetrate a few feet into the ground at most, but there is no need to penetrate deep into the subsoil or beyond. University Of Houston Energy Fellows, Forbes, 13 May 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'subsoil.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1775, in the meaning defined above


1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of subsoil was in 1775

Dictionary Entries Near subsoil

Cite this Entry

“Subsoil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a layer of weathered material that lies just under the surface soil

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