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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Rather than total retrieval-cue avoidance, try a technique called thought substitution. New York Times, "How to Forget Something," 4 May 2021 Tsai said there currently is no reliable substitution therapy, such as drug treatments available for opiates. Steve Lopez Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Homeless and addicted, they hit bottom. Now they’re on the verge of breaking free," 1 May 2021 Her latest recipes are more streamlined than ever, with a mere handful of ingredients – and lots of substitution options – combining in surprising, flavorful ways. Washington Post, "Toasted almond broth and asparagus turn ravioli into a light springtime dish," 16 Apr. 2021 Scientists must make sure the mRNA substitution doesn’t trigger different side effects. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Tweaked COVID vaccines in testing aim to fend off variants," 13 Apr. 2021 The rule was implemented for the first time during the 2021 SheBelieves Cup last February in Orlando, following a decision by the International Football Association Board to approve a 20-month trial of concussion-substitution guidelines this year. Kevin Baxter Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Soccer newsletter: European match stained by racism again," 6 Apr. 2021 The first of these is a leucine to argentine substitution at amino acid 452 (L452R). William A. Haseltine, Forbes, "An Indian SARS-CoV-2 Variant Lands In California. More Danger Ahead?," 12 Apr. 2021 This time there was a three-for-three substitution with 5:36 left in the opening period, subbing in Dragic, Herro and Bjelica together for Adebayo, Oladipo and Robinson. Ira Winderman,, "Heat build on winning streaks with 115-101 victory over Cavaliers," 3 Apr. 2021 When questioned by auditors about the substitution of tests, state health officials stood by the governor’s explanation that better tests became available. Pamela Wood,, "Maryland purchased South Korean COVID tests with no contract, meaning state had to pay to replace faulty tests, audit finds," 2 Apr. 2021

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.

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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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Statistics for substitution

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Substitution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for substitution



English Language Learners Definition of substitution

: the act of substituting or replacing one person or thing with another
: someone or something that is or can be substituted for another


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

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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

Comments on substitution

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