substantive

adjective
sub·​stan·​tive | \ ˈsəb-stən-tiv How to pronounce substantive (audio) ; senses 3c & 4 also səb-ˈstan-tiv How to pronounce substantive (audio) \

Definition of substantive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having substance : involving matters of major or practical importance to all concerned substantive discussions among world leaders
2 : considerable in amount or numbers : substantial made substantive progress
3a : real rather than apparent : firm need substantive evidence to prove her guilt also : permanent, enduring
b : belonging to the substance of a thing : essential
c : expressing existence the substantive verb is the verb to be
4a : having the nature or function of a noun a substantive phrase
b : relating to or having the character of a noun or pronominal term in logic
5 : creating and defining rights and duties substantive law — compare procedural
6 : requiring or involving no mordant a substantive dyeing process
7 : being a totally independent entity

substantive

noun
sub·​stan·​tive | \ ˈsəb-stən-tiv How to pronounce substantive (audio) \

Definition of substantive (Entry 2 of 2)

: noun broadly : a word or word group functioning syntactically as a noun

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Other Words from substantive

Adjective

substantively adverb
substantiveness noun

Noun

substantivize \ ˈsəb-​stən-​ti-​ˌvīz How to pronounce substantivize (audio) \ transitive verb

Did You Know?

Noun

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."

Examples of substantive in a Sentence

Adjective

"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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

During the hearing, Jeff Clark, from the Justice Department, argued that there is no substantive constitutional right to a stable environment. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, "The Right to a Stable Climate Is the Constitutional Question of the Twenty-first Century," 15 June 2019 Hansberry and Watson were convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, but acquitted on all nine other substantive counts. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police officers lose appeal: ‘They were dirty cops’," 13 June 2019 While people can debate whether planet-friendly proclamations by corporations are a substantive shift or window dressing, the fashion, health, and beauty sectors have been making their interest clear. Kim Bhasin, Fortune, "Chanel Invests in Boston Startup Making Sustainable Silk," 11 June 2019 Given the unique and divisive teaching about the substantive nature of the consecrated bread and wine, Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians provided what would become the scriptural grounds for selective admission to the sacrament. John Hirschauer, National Review, "What Is Pope Francis Saying about Communion?," 10 June 2019 Under a celebrity president more interested in crushing Diet Cokes, refreshing Twitter, binging Fox News, and firing members of his administration, Warren has made big, bold, substantive policy plans feel downright cool. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Nevertheless, Elizabeth Warren Is Persisting in the Polls," 29 May 2019 While the immediate reduction and eventual elimination of police violence is ideal for many voters, there is a lingering concern on whether police-reform activists could provide substantive economic policy or find ways to curb city spending. Lincoln Anthony Blades, Teen Vogue, "Stevante Clark is Running for Mayor of Sacramento," 3 Jan. 2019 Those rumors don't have any substantive backing to them, though. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "When Is Meghan Markle's Due Date? Here's When the Royal Baby Will Likely Be Born," 18 Apr. 2019 Republicans have offered up no substantive new legislation, and are instead complaining that what Democrats present will not eradicate 100 percent of future mass shootings, as if that were the legislative standard. Jill Filipovic, Cosmopolitan, "Republican Lawmakers Are Human Shrug Emojis," 27 Feb. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of substantive

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 7

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for substantive

Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French sustentif — see substantive entry 2

Noun

Middle English substantif, from Anglo-French sustentif, from sustentif, adjective, having or expressing substance, from Late Latin substantivus, from Latin substantia

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Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for substantive

The first known use of substantive was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for substantive

substantive

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of substantive

formal
: important, real, or meaningful
: supported by facts or logic

substantive

adjective
sub·​stan·​tive | \ ˈsəb-stən-tiv How to pronounce substantive (audio) \

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)

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