substance

play
noun sub·stance \ˈsəb-stən(t)s\

Definition of substance

  1. 1a :  essential nature :  essenceb :  a fundamental or characteristic part or qualityc Christian Science :  god 1b

  2. 2a :  ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and changeb :  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. 3a :  physical material from which something is made or which has discrete existenceb :  matter of particular or definite chemical constitutionc :  something (as drugs or alcoholic beverages) deemed harmful and usually subject to legal restriction possession of a controlled substance substance abuse

  4. 4 :  material possessions :  property a family of substance

substanceless

play \-ləs\ adjective

in substance

  1. :  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

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


First Known Use: 14th century



SUBSTANCE Defined for English Language Learners

substance

play
noun sub·stance \ˈsəb-stən(t)s\

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

play
noun sub·stance \ˈsəb-stəns\

Definition of substance for Students

  1. 1 :  material of a certain kind an oily substance

  2. 2 :  the most basic or important part or quality The books differ in both style and substance.

  3. 3 :  material belongings :  wealth a person of substance


Medical Dictionary

substance

play
noun sub·stance \ˈsəb-stən(t)s\

Medical Definition of substance

  1. 1:  physical material from which something is made or which has discrete existence the substance of nerve tissue

  2. 2:  matter of particular or definite chemical constitution

  3. 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. 1 :  substantive law was a question of substance and not process — compare procedure

  2. 2 :  something (as language) essential especially to establishing a valid right, claim, or charge a title defective in form, not substance



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a dividing ridge between drainage areas

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!