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

This program has a similar structure but provides an opportunity to get feedback and increase motivation for the teen to look at their substance use, vaping, or drinking. courant.com, "Community News For The Colchester Edition," 13 Sep. 2019 Skip to main content The data shows that substance use disorder is still widespread, but innovations in treatment, prescribing and awareness are helping. Kevin Mccoy, USA TODAY, "'Clearly a game.' Opioid lawsuit settlements arranged to give drug companies a tax break, experts say," 12 Sep. 2019 Prior to his death, Mac was open about his experiences with substance use and the effects on his mental health, often reiterating that his music was his purest outlet for communicating his truest self to the world. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Fans Are Remembering Mac Miller One Year After His Death," 7 Sep. 2019 And yet, substance use among college-age Americans is clearly an issue. Rebecca Tan, Longreads, "Paul Clarke Wants to Live," 3 Sep. 2019 The catering business and restaurant will also provide on-the-job training for people in early recovery from substance use issues. Sarah Kuta, The Know, "“Sober curious” trend hits Colorado, with zero-proof cocktail menus and plans for a new “dry bar”," 20 Aug. 2019 Along with research on elementary school children, FIU’s Center for Children and Families is enrolling teens for a study on substance use prevention and programs for adolescents with ADHD. Cindy Krischer Goodman, sun-sentinel.com, "Back to school: South Florida researcher wants to prove behavior adjustments can treat ADHD," 9 Aug. 2019 On the top of the list of the conditions that may lead to violent acts are substance use and personality disorders, specifically antisocial personality disorder. Arash Javanbakht, The Conversation, "Can experts determine who might be a mass killer? 3 questions answered," 8 Aug. 2019 Preterm birth can happen for a number of reasons, like a history of going into labor too early, being pregnant with multiples, smoking, substance use disorder, and having less than 18 months between pregnancies, the CDC says. Patia Braithwaite, SELF, "11 Health Conditions You Should Know About If You’re Black and Pregnant," 30 July 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

17 Sep 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

miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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!