sub·​sti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌsəb-stə-ˈtü-shən How to pronounce substitution (audio) , -ˈtyü- \

Definition of substitution

1a : the act, process, or result of substituting one thing for another
b : replacement of one mathematical entity by another of equal value
2 : one that is substituted for another

Other Words from substitution

substitutional \ ˌsəb-​stə-​ˈtü-​shnəl How to pronounce substitution (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl , -​ˈtyü-​ \ adjective
substitutionally adverb
substitutionary \ ˌsəb-​stə-​ˈtü-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce substitution (audio) , -​ˈtyü-​ \ adjective

Examples of substitution in a Sentence

The coach made three substitutions in the second half of the game. I'd prefer rice with my steak instead of potatoes, but the menu says “no substitutions.” Substitution of applesauce for oil is one way of reducing the fat in recipes. The cookbook has a long list of substitutions for ingredients that may be hard to find.
Recent Examples on the Web The original Navajo recruits were tasked with developing an unbreakable code by using words from their language and encoding it with word substitution to transmit tactical information over telephone and radio. Paradise Afshar And Nouran Salahieh, CNN, 31 July 2022 There are two tournaments — high schools (13 to 17 years old) and adult bracket (18 years and older) — this weekend as each team must have at least five players (three playing and two substitution players). Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 25 July 2022 Moreno came off during that substitution, ending his opportunity to score the first hat-trick in Timbers history. oregonlive, 29 June 2022 When the substitution went through in the 76th minute, Marcina gave Cardone a hug as the fans provided a standing ovation. Greg Luca, San Antonio Express-News, 3 July 2022 By getting creative with his starting lineups, Kerr has put pressure on assistant Mike Brown, who is charged with allotting minutes and planning substitution patterns. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 May 2022 In a series of quick whistles, the Grizzlies and Timberwolves managed to avoid foul trouble in the first half, which meant coaches weren't handicapped and forced into substitution patterns for the first time this series. Damichael Cole, USA TODAY, 30 Apr. 2022 As the Spurs’ deficit ballooned from 10 to 20 and then 25 in the first quarter Friday, a lonely voice from the mezzanine at the AT&T Center called for Gregg Popovich to make a substitution. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 18 Mar. 2022 Phoenix Pinnacle defended, rebounded, and patiently worked the ball around for high-percentage shots, never letting Peoria Liberty get comfortable with the five-in, five-out substitution pattern every two minutes. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 17 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'substitution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of substitution

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for substitution

Middle English substitucion, from Middle French, from Late Latin substitution-, substitutio, from substituere

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Time Traveler for substitution

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near substitution



substitution cipher

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Statistics for substitution

Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Substitution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for substitution


sub·​sti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌsəb-stə-ˈtü-shən How to pronounce substitution (audio) , -ˈtyü- \

Kids Definition of substitution

: the act or process of putting in or taking the place of another


sub·​sti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌsəb-stə-ˈt(y)ü-shən How to pronounce substitution (audio) \

Medical Definition of substitution

1 : a chemical reaction in which one or more atoms or groups in a molecule are replaced by equivalent atoms or groups to form at least two products especially : the replacement of hydrogen in an organic compound by another element or group
2a : the turning from an obstructed desire to another desire whose gratification is socially acceptable
b : the turning from an obstructed form of behavior to a different and often more primitive expression of the same tendency a substitution neurosis
c : the reacting to each of a set of stimuli by a response prescribed in a key a substitution test for speed of learning new responses


sub·​sti·​tu·​tion | \ ˌsəb-stə-ˈtü-shən, -ˈtyü- How to pronounce substitution (audio) \

Legal Definition of substitution

: the substituting of one person or thing for another: as
a in the civil law of Louisiana : a disposition not in trust by which a donee, heir, or legatee is charged to hold property transferred and return it to a third person — compare fidei commissum, vulgar substitution

Note: Substitutions are prohibited.

b : replacement of a party to an action with a successor or representative upon motion to the court when the party is unable to continue litigating (as because of death, incompetency, transfer of interest, or loss of the office for which the party was suing or being sued in an official capacity)
c : the replacement of a new agreement or obligation for an old one — see also novation

Other Words from substitution

substitutional \ -​shə-​nəl How to pronounce substitution (audio) \ adjective
substitutionary \ -​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce substitution (audio) \ adjective


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