substance

noun sub·stance \ ˈsəb-stən(t)s \
Updated on: 3 Dec 2017

Definition of substance

1 a : essential nature : essence
b : a fundamental or characteristic part or quality
c Christian Science : god 1b
2 a : ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change
b : practical importance : meaning, usefulness
  • the … bill—which will be without substance in the sense that it will authorize nothing more than a set of ideas
  • —Richard Reeves
3 a : physical material from which something is made or which has discrete existence
b : matter of particular or definite chemical constitution
c : something (such as drugs or alcoholic beverages) deemed harmful and usually subject to legal restriction
  • possession of a controlled substance
  • substance abuse
4 : material possessions : property
  • a family of substance

substanceless

play \-ləs\ adjective
in substance
: in respect to essentials : fundamentally

Examples of substance in a Sentence

  1. The pancreas secretes a substance called insulin.

  2. The floor was covered with a white, powdery substance that turned out to be flour.

  3. heroin and other illegal substances

  4. He had a history of substance abuse.

  5. When has he ever said anything of substance?

  6. The results of the study give substance to their theory.

  7. the substance of my argument

Recent Examples of substance from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'substance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of substance

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin substantia, from substant-, substans, present participle of substare to stand under, from sub- + stare to stand — more at stand

substance Synonyms



SUBSTANCE Defined for English Language Learners

substance

noun

Definition of substance for English Language Learners

  • : a material of a particular kind

  • : a drug that is considered harmful and whose use is controlled by law or made illegal

  • : the quality of being meaningful, useful, or important


SUBSTANCE Defined for Kids

substance

noun sub·stance \ ˈsəb-stəns \

Definition of substance for Students

1 : material of a certain kind
  • an oily substance
2 : the most basic or important part or quality
  • The books differ in both style and substance.
3 : material belongings : wealth
  • a person of substance

Medical Dictionary

substance

noun sub·stance \ ˈsəb-stən(t)s \

medical Definition of substance

1 : physical material from which something is made or which has discrete existence
  • the substance of nerve tissue
2 : matter of particular or definite chemical constitution
3 : something (as alcohol, methamphetamine, or marijuana) deemed harmful and usually subject to legal restriction
  • heroin is a controlled substance
  • substance abuse

Law Dictionary

substance

noun sub·stance

legal Definition of substance

1 : substantive law
  • was a question of substance and not process
— compare procedure
2 : something (as language) essential especially to establishing a valid right, claim, or charge
  • a title defective in form, not substance


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