substance

noun

sub·​stance ˈsəb-stən(t)s How to pronounce substance (audio)
1
a
: essential nature : essence
b
: a fundamental or characteristic part or quality
c
Christian Science : god sense 1b
2
a
: 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 ideasRichard Reeves
3
a
: 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
substanceless adjective
Phrases
in substance
: in respect to essentials : fundamentally

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
Recent Examples on the Web But not for the sake of his father, Johnny Cash, whose substance abuse issues were widely known and well documented. Ashley Lee, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2024 Waste paper and plastic were found in the packages and there were no substances hazardous to safety, the JCS said. Yoonjung Seo, CNN, 9 June 2024 The middle child’s developmental and behavioral challenges – the result of his mother’s substance use before birth – proved particularly daunting. Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald, 6 June 2024 No hazardous substances were found, according to South Korea’s military. Hyung-Jin Kim, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for substance 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'substance.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near substance

Cite this Entry

“Substance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/substance. Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

substance

noun
sub·​stance ˈsəb-stən(t)s How to pronounce substance (audio)
1
a
: essential nature : essence
divine substance
b
: the fundamental or essential part, quality, or meaning
the substance of the speech
2
a
: physical material from which something is made
b
: material of particular or definite chemical constitution
an oily substance
c
: something (as drugs or alcoholic beverages) considered harmful and usually subject to legal restriction
substance abuse
3
: material possessions : property
a person of substance

Medical Definition

substance

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

Legal Definition

substance

noun
sub·​stance
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

More from Merriam-Webster on substance

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