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

This comes at a time when lawmakers and authorities are cracking down on opioids, sometimes leaving people who’ve become addicted turning to other substances. Joshua Sharpe, ajc, "Meth, ‘the Devil’s drug,’ is back and killing more people than ever," 4 July 2018 Can be sold on the street, as addicts seek relief from withdrawal symptoms or mix it with other substances for a low-grade high. Felice J. Freyer, BostonGlobe.com, "Medications to treat opioid addiction," 6 June 2018 People need cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D and other substances, but trouble arises when the waxy matter builds up inside the walls of arteries, hardening into plaque that restricts the flow of blood and increases the risk of heart disease. Jo Craven Mcginty, WSJ, "High Cholesterol? It Must Be January," 18 Jan. 2019 Soap and water: Not only does this remove visible dirt and other substances, soap can also kill potential pathogens. Colleen Stinchcombe, SELF, "These Are the Dirtiest Things in Your Home (Which You Should Clean Immediately)," 21 Dec. 2018 The figures are based on a nationwide survey of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders who participated in the Monitoring the Future study, which has tracked teen use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs and other substances every year since 1975. Karen Kaplan, The Seattle Times, "Vaping among teens spikes, luring new generation of kids into tobacco use," 18 Dec. 2018 Trying to maintain equal parts style and substance? Devon Maloney, The Verge, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse directors on the film’s gorgeous style," 17 Dec. 2018 Despite the fashion spectacle, Indigo Brooks wanted to make one thing clear: Howard University students have both style and substance. Ashley Walker, Teen Vogue, "Howard Homecoming's Fashion Show Was a Celebration of Black Culture and Style," 27 Oct. 2018 But studies, as in the one that was just released earlier this month that found 800 supplements were contaminated with prescription medications and other substances, prove that this is sometimes not the case. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "These new vape companies want you to inhale ... vitamins," 24 Oct. 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

19 Mar 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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