substance

noun
sub·​stance | \ ˈsəb-stən(t)s How to pronounce substance (audio) \

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 How to pronounce substanceless (audio) \ 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

In exchange, they were constantly stripped, prodded, measured, and, at least five times a week, injected with a mysterious substance. Tony Rehagen, BostonGlobe.com, "A Holocaust survivor built a remarkable monument to hope and memory. Now that she’s gone, who will remind us?," 16 Aug. 2019 When fungus attacks, powder-like spots of a mold-like substance forms on plant surfaces in addition to the formation of white fruiting bodies, or growths, that become black. oregonlive.com, "Why isn’t this wisteria blooming? Ask an expert," 16 Aug. 2019 Liquor is a mood-altering substance that causes issues that can cost towns money. Randy Blaser, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Recreational marijuana is coming, and suburban leaders have some decisions to make," 16 Aug. 2019 Last month, Glendale police said someone smeared an unknown brown, sticky substance on the the statue. Mark Kellam, Glendale News-Press, "Musical centering on plights of comfort women, a topic with local significance, opens in Los Angeles," 16 Aug. 2019 Analyzing a Warren stump speech without making reference to substance is akin to writing a biography of Marie Curie without mentioning radioactivity. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Arguing the World," 15 Aug. 2019 The gossip about Sergej Milinkovic-Savic came and went without any substance, while the only midfielder the club seemed to genuinely want, Sean Longstaff, had an unrealistic £50m price tag. SI.com, "How Bruno Fernandes Saga Shows Man Utd Have Finally Turned a Corner in the Transfer Market," 15 Aug. 2019 On another search, police found a green leafy substance that appeared to be marijuana and a red iPhone in the drivers-side floorboard. Mike Cruz, azcentral, "Driver arrested in DUI-related crash in Tolleson that killed 7-year-old girl," 14 Aug. 2019 These substances can seriously impair one's ability to drive a car. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "Slow down: Tips for school zones in Houston-area, as teachers, parents, kids return to class," 12 Aug. 2019

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

20 Aug 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 How to pronounce substance (audio) \

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 How to pronounce substance (audio) \

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

to make or get by devious means

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!