sub·​sti·​tu·​tion | \ˌsəb-stə-ˈtü-shən, -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, -​shə-​nᵊl, -​ˈtyü-​ \ adjective
substitutionally adverb
substitutionary \ˌsəb-​stə-​ˈtü-​shə-​ˌner-​ē, -​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

No substitution or transfer of prize by winner permitted. WSJ, "Win This Custom Levi’s Jacket!," 14 Sep. 2018 The tech company had reportedly offered to send its senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, but Burr and Warner weren’t satisfied with that substitution, leaving the empty chair instead. Jen Kirby, Vox, "5 things you may have missed from the Facebook and Twitter hearings on Capitol Hill," 6 Sep. 2018 Yet Belgium's hopes were only kept afloat when late substitutions by Martinez helped the Red Devils fight back from a two-goal deficit to Japan and clinch their place in the quarter-finals with a last-gasp 3-2 win. Justin Davis,, "Martinez: Belgium are 'very excited' to face Brazil in World Cup quarterfinals," 5 July 2018 No cash or other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor's discretion. The Cut, "Enter to Win $500 Worth of Jewelry and Tickets to Broadway’s Hottest Play," 5 June 2018 But without vigorous backing from the executive, such programmes as land reform and voluntary crop substitution will grind to a halt. The Economist, "Will Colombia’s next president imperil the peace deal with the FARC?," 26 May 2018 The company’s portable, rapid drug-screening system is currently being used in some drug-treatment centers to determine whether patients on opioid-substitution therapy are using heroin, cocaine, or other drugs, according to Walker. Rod Mccullom, The Atlantic, "Drug Use Is Detectable on Your Fingerprints," 13 Apr. 2018 Now she’s sharing another healthy substitution for the salty snack. Ana Calderone,, "Jennifer Garner Shares a 'Naturally Sweet and Completely Addicting' Snack Recipe," 19 Mar. 2018 The Miers reference is telling, since those trying to derail Kavanaugh hope to emulate the successful 2005 conservative campaign to force her withdrawal by Bush, leading to the deeply satisfying-to-conservatives substitution of Samuel Alito. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Kavanaugh Remains SCOTUS Front-runner Despite Right-Wing Backlash," 5 July 2018

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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Statistics for substitution

Last Updated

28 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for substitution

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

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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, -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 \

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- \

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 \ adjective
substitutionary \-​shə-​ˌner-​ē \ adjective

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