sub·​strate | \ ˈsəb-ˌstrāt How to pronounce substrate (audio) \

Definition of substrate

2 : the base on which an organism lives the soil is the substrate of most seed plants
3 : a substance acted upon (as by an enzyme)

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Did You Know?

With its Latin prefix sub-, "below", substrate obviously refers to a layer under something else. Rock may serve as the substrate for the coral in a coral reef. Tiny wafers of silicon (or another semiconductor) serve as the substrate for computer chips. Substrate may also mean subsoil—that is, the layer under the topsoil, lacking in organic matter or humus. Substrate is part of the vocabulary of various other sciences, including chemistry and biology. But although it's mostly a scientific term, writers may also use it to mean simply "foundation"—for instance, when observing that reading is the substrate on which most other learning is based.

Examples of substrate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, begins to be in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why the Abortion Movie Unplanned Is Factually Incorrect," 16 Apr. 2019 Bore all the way through the substrate to which the tile is mounted. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Mount a Shelf on a Tile Wall," 6 Mar. 2013 The surface is made up of a silicon substrate, also known as a silicon wafer. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "A New Hydrophobic Surface Could Turn the Ocean's Waves Into Electricity," 4 Oct. 2018 The base structure of the heat shield is a titanium truss covered with a composite substrate (or skin) that has several layers of carbon fiber. Elizabeth Howell,, "NASA's Orion Spacecraft Gets Heat Shield for Daring Test Flight to the Moon," 21 Aug. 2018 That substance is then pressed into brick and treated to make natural construction substrate. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Can mushrooms help turn demolished buildings into new ones?," 18 July 2018 This enzyme cleaves a specific substrate that researchers can sprinkle onto cells in the lab. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Scientists use caffeine to control genes—and treat diabetic mice with coffee," 20 June 2018 This small member of the catfish family can be found in small to large rivers with moderate to strong currents and substrates of sand, gravel or rock. Michigan Wildlife Council, Detroit Free Press, "Polishing a gem: Plan aims for St. Clair-Detroit River system improvements," 10 July 2018 That means isolated spaces for females, separate habitats for males and females, as well as natural substrates. Carol Motsinger,, "Cincinnati Zoo just got a $50 million gift. But it's just the beginning of a big plan," 7 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'substrate.' 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 substrate

1730, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for substrate

Medieval Latin substratum

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Statistics for substrate

Last Updated

6 May 2019

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Time Traveler for substrate

The first known use of substrate was in 1730

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More Definitions for substrate


sub·​strate | \ ˈsəb-ˌstrāt How to pronounce substrate (audio) \

Medical Definition of substrate

2 : the base on which an organism lives
3 : a substance acted upon (as by an enzyme)

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More from Merriam-Webster on substrate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with substrate

Nglish: Translation of substrate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of substrate for Arabic Speakers

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