substance

noun
sub·​stance | \ ˈsəb-stən(t)s \

Definition of substance

1a : essential nature : essence
b : a fundamental or characteristic part or quality
c Christian Science : god sense 1b
2a : 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
3a : 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
in substance
: in respect to essentials : fundamentally

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from substance

substanceless \ ˈsəb-​stən(t)s-​ləs \ adjective

Examples of substance in a Sentence

The pancreas secretes a substance called insulin. The floor was covered with a white, powdery substance that turned out to be flour. heroin and other illegal substances He had a history of substance abuse. When has he ever said anything of substance? The results of the study give substance to their theory. the substance of my argument
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Henri has been open about his substance abuse over the past couple of years. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Who is Henri Levy? Everything You Need to Know About Demi Lovato's Boyfriend," 31 Dec. 2018 Jones struggled with drinking and substance abuse and even showed up to award shows obviously inebriated. Fox News, "9 of country music's most shocking moments," 4 Oct. 2018 Demi has long been open and candid about her struggles with substance abuse throughout her teenage years. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Demi Lovato's Team Releases an Official Statement About Her Overdose," 25 July 2018 Upon closer examination, the researchers found that the mother spider was producing some kind of substance, secreting it onto the floor of the nest. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "There Is a Spider That Feeds Its Young Delicious Milk, Because Nature Is Scary," 30 Nov. 2018 The sophisticated tests now available include gas chromatography mass spectrometry, which can detect minuscule amounts of substance, and was used in missions to Mars. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "What a new WSU study tells us about the earliest days of smoking tobacco in the Northwest," 30 Oct. 2018 Some homeopaths believe that water molecules can have memories of the substance and that shaking the dilutions can increase their healing potency. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Bogus homeopathy data published in top journal sparks outcry, facepalms," 10 Oct. 2018 Facebook denied most of the substance of the story. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A conservative Facebook would probably fail — but Facebook should worry about it anyway," 31 Aug. 2018 And 200 raw cherry seeds, also an ounce, contain a relatively low 117 milligrams of the substance. Jean Nick, Good Housekeeping, "Are Stone Fruit Seeds Poisonous?," 25 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of substance

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about substance

Statistics for substance

Last Updated

8 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for substance

The first known use of substance was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for substance

substance

noun

English Language Learners Definition of substance

: 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

noun
sub·​stance | \ ˈsəb-stəns \

Kids Definition of substance

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

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on substance

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

WORD OF THE DAY

important, real, or meaningful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!