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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Harford County government is continuing its addiction prevention campaign this summer with its latest multi-media efforts encouraging parents to talk to their children about substance abuse and mental health. Erika Butler, baltimoresun.com, "Harford continues to encourage parents to talk to their children about addiction, mental health," 21 June 2019 His caseworker worried about his ability to protect the boy from Penar’s substance abuse. Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, "For generations, Illinois’ child welfare agency has failed to adequately serve Spanish-speaking families with children in its care.," 20 June 2019 But some of these activities appear to be made of a different substance. Time, "Work-Life Balance Is a Myth. Do This Instead," 6 June 2019 Other than attacking the basket, drawing fouls and scoring from midrange, there is not a ton of substance to his game, and Syracuse’s recent history of producing quality pros has been spotty. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "2019 NBA Draft Big Board 7.0: Top 100 Prospect Rankings," 5 June 2019 Both Tiger and the PGA Tour did nothing of substance to force Augusta National’s hand. Mike Bianchi, orlandosentinel.com, "Forget Hank Haney, why wasn’t Tiger Woods, PGA Tour fighting golf sexism at Augusta National? | Commentary," 5 June 2019 Designers delivered sophistication minus any stuffiness for Fall and directed it to latter-day Jo Stocktons, i.e., women of substance. Vogue, "Bella Hadid Stars on Vogue’s Exclusive Digital Cover," 25 Mar. 2019 A few ounces of the substance can command hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Peter Yeung, National Geographic, "Porcupines are being poached for their stomach content," 22 Mar. 2019 That said, ginger cannot prevent food poisoning or counteract ingestion of a harmful substance, so contact your physician ASAP if something requires urgent medical attention. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "8 Surprising Health Benefits of Ginger You Need to Know About," 19 Nov. 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

25 Jun 2019

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 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

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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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