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 The result: At the University of Florida Research Station in Belle Glade, a concrete marker driven through the organic soil down to the limestone substrate shows the ground has sunk 6 feet since 1924. Allen G. Breed,, "To save the Everglades, guardians fight time — and climate," 3 Dec. 2019 The order of these substrates, known as bases, provides assembly instructions for the organism. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "Why DNA Might Be the Data Storage Solution of the Future," 10 Oct. 2019 The mechanics of use are distinct, and the worked substrates in the Inuit and Freuchen cases are different. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Knives made of frozen feces don’t make the cut, disproving well-known legend," 16 Sep. 2019 Carp indeed do feed primarily on bottom substrate for smaller morsels. Jim Gronaw,, "Gronaw: Finding the top-end bottom feeders," 15 Sep. 2019 The app can also control the temperature, humidity and ventilation, and the hydroponic system that supplies the plants, growing on various non-soil substrates, with water and nutrients. The Economist, "New ways to make vertical farming stack up," 29 Aug. 2019 Those threads use an amino acid group called dihydroxyphenylalanine, or DOPA, which uses a few chemistry tricks, like hydrogen bonding, that allows it to form a super-tight bond with all sorts of substrates. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Mussels’ Sticky Threads Could Inspire Ways to Clean Up Oil Spills, Purify Water and More," 13 July 2019 Netthat the compound, made by using epoxy as a base and incorporating mango leaf extracts in a substrate of amorphous silica, achieved 99% inhibition of corrosion in commercial steel when immersed in a saline medium to mimic seawater. Ranjit Devraj, Quartz India, "Mango leaves: Indian scientists’ solution to a $2.5 trillion global shipping problem," 24 July 2019 The work also paints a picture of the neural substrate underlying expectation in the brain. Quanta Magazine, "Brains Speed Up Perception by Guessing What’s Next," 2 May 2019

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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Time Traveler for substrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of substrate was in 1730

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Statistics for substrate

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Substrate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 29 January 2020.

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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

Comments on substrate

What made you want to look up substrate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to assert without proof or before proving

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