substantive was our Word of the Day on 05/14/2010. Hear the podcast!
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Origin and Etymology of substantive
Middle English substantif, from Anglo-French sustentif, from sustentif, adjective, having or expressing substance, from Late Latin substantivus, from Latin substantia
Definition of substantive
1 : being a totally independent entity
2a : real rather than apparent : firm need substantive evidence to prove her guilt; also : permanent, enduringb : belonging to the substance of a thing : essentialc : expressing existence the substantive verb is the verb to bed : requiring or involving no mordant a substantive dyeing process
3a : having the nature or function of a noun a substantive phraseb : relating to or having the character of a noun or pronominal term in logic
4 : considerable in amount or numbers : substantial made substantive progress
5 : creating and defining rights and duties substantive law — compare procedural
6 : having substance : involving matters of major or practical importance to all concerned substantive discussions among world leaders
Examples of substantive in a Sentence
“This was not a drive-by P.R. stunt, and I actually thought it might be,” said Representative Zach Wamp, Republican of Tennessee. “It was a substantive, in-depth discussion with our conference, and he's very effective.” —Jackie Calmes & Carl Hulse, New York Times, 27 Jan. 2009
The first substantive issue that the Supreme Court considered in its Brown opinion was whether, as originally understood, the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited racial segregation in public schooling. The justices concluded that the historical record was inconclusive. —Randall Kennedy, New Republic, 5 & 12 July 2004
The common critique of art's pleasures and entertainments—that they are trivial, devoid of substantive value, and degrading of art's genuine worth—rests on ignoring this diversity by making two false assumptions: first, that there is basically one kind of aesthetic pleasure in art's entertainment and, secondly, that this pleasure is always a shallow and trivial one, which distracts us from interest in art's real meaning and truth. —Richard Shusterman, Let's Entertain: Life's Guilty Pleasures, 2000
These changes are more symbolic than substantive.
No substantive changes were made to the document.
There is no substantive reason to change the law.
Recent Examples of substantive from the Web
Even if the U.S. and Chinese governments fail to agree on more substantive trade terms, corporate chief executive officers from the two countries pledged to deepen their cooperation and joint investment efforts.
Yet another stirring, affirmative, substantive defense of what the bill will actually do.
Politics is not so innocent anymore: What was originally intended as a purely budgetary provision has evolved into a sneaky way of passing major pieces of substantive legislation.
The speech to the Legislative Council represented her most substantive attempt to differentiate herself from the unpopular Leung, whose five-year term was marred by street protests and the emergence of an independence movement.
And Beijing refused to make any substantive changes to its proposal for the chief executive election, which allowed a public vote but only for candidates vetted by a pro-Beijing nominating committee.
Williams said the two sides have not have substantive conversations, other than gauging Cozart’s openness to the idea of staying in Cincinnati.
So, Cruz’s proposal does not solve the substantive problems with Trumpcare.
Still, some remain skeptical that there is enough time to absorb the bill, make substantive changes to it and also hold a final vote, as McConnell is aiming to do this week.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'substantive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Substantive was borrowed into Middle English from the Anglo-French adjective sustentif, meaning "having or expressing substance," and can be traced back to the Latin verb substare, which literally means "to stand under." Figuratively, the meaning of "substare" is best understood as "to stand firm" or "to hold out." Since the 14th century, we have used "substantive" to speak of that which is of enough "substance" to stand alone, or be independent. By the 19th century the word evolved related meanings, such as "enduring" and "essential." It also shares some senses with "substantial," such as "considerable in quantity."
SUBSTANTIVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of substantive for English Language Learners
: important, real, or meaningful
: supported by facts or logic
Legal Definition of substantive
1 : of or relating to a matter of substance as opposed to form or procedure a substantive issue the substantive instructions to the jury was dismissed on procedural and substantive grounds — compare procedural
2 : affecting rights, duties, or causes of actions a substantive statutory change a substantive rule of law
3 : existing in its own right; specifically : of or relating to a substantive crime the object of a RICO conspiracy is to violate a substantive RICO provision — United States v. Elliot, 571 F.2d 880 (1978)
Seen and Heard
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