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

Trump’s electoral victory, driven by his fear-mongering over crime, raised fears among many reformers that the moment for taking substantive, bipartisan steps against mass incarceration has passed. Matt Ford, New Republic, "A Chance for Criminal-Justice Reform Under Trump," 5 Feb. 2018 The views of key actors, notably the Gates Foundation, have tended to shift rapidly on those substantive questions. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Billionaires are spending their fortunes reshaping America’s schools. It isn’t working.," 30 Oct. 2018 Yet Sessions is in every substantive way the ultimate Trump loyalist. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "When Trump Attacks Sessions, He Sounds Like a Guilty Man," 31 May 2018 The upshot is that voters in some parts of the country are being treated to a substantive debate about the costs and merits of single-payer health care and how best to insure people with pre-existing conditions. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Democrats Struggle to Confront Trump-Era Reality," 30 Oct. 2018 Even if Perry never has to argue in front of O’Neill, appellate judges might frown on any judicial complaint that is not substantive, Filler said. Graham Bowley, The Seattle Times, "Bill Cosby, appealing conviction, hires 12th firm and 20th lawyer," 22 Oct. 2018 More substantive are the instructions issued to media outlets by China’s propaganda authorities. The Economist, "In its trade war with America, China dials down the hype," 12 July 2018 Under these circumstances, analysts said, the leaders’ joint declaration, which also covered support for closer military cooperation and foreign policy, was more substantive than might have been expected. New York Times, "Merkel and Macron Try to Save European Union, and Themselves," 19 June 2018 Kim Yo Jong was promoted by her brother last year to a new post within the North's ruling party that analysts said showed that her activities are more substantive and more important than previously thought. USA TODAY, "The Latest: Cold comes to Pyeongchang ahead of Olympics," 6 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

12 Apr 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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