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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

That substance is being tested, according to reporting from the AP. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton Were Sent "Potential Explosive Devices" in the Mail," 24 Oct. 2018 Irritant contact dermatitis, which is the more common form, happens when a substance is harsh enough to damage your outer layer of skin. Korin Miller, SELF, "Here’s Why Your Same Old Eye Makeup Is Suddenly Causing Irritation," 5 Oct. 2018 The Metropolitan Police said the small bottle was found during searches of Rowley's house Wednesday and scientists confirmed the substance in the bottle was Novichok. Gregory Katz, chicagotribune.com, "Bottle containing nerve agent found in home of poisoned man in U.K., police say," 13 July 2018 The Metropolitan Police said the small bottle was found during searches of Rowley's house Wednesday and scientists confirmed the substance in the bottle was Novichok. Fox News, "UK police confirm source of Novichok poisoning," 13 July 2018 The substance behind this claim is that its chef-de-cuisine is a robot. The Economist, "The rise of the robochef," 12 July 2018 Animal tests are considered the gold standard for determining how toxic a substance might be to people. Eric Boodman, STAT, "Computers may surpass rabbits and rodents for some chemical safety tests," 11 July 2018 An officer later determined the substance was a chemical spray from a fire extinguisher. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "Vandal left disgusting and smelly surprise on pastor’s chair at church, NC police say," 11 July 2018 For one thing, the substance applied in rejuvenating an asphalt roadway is not as thick as the sealant applied to driveways and parking lots. Dan Moran, Lake County News-Sun, "Moran: Lake County looks to rejuvenate pavement before wear-and-tear sets in," 6 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.

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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

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Statistics for substance

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for substance

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

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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

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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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Comments on substance

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