sub·​stra·​tum | \ ˈsəb-ˌstrā-təm How to pronounce substratum (audio) , -ˌstra-; ˌsəb-ˈstrā-, -ˈstra- \
plural substrata\ ˈsəb-​ˌstrā-​tə How to pronounce substratum (audio) , -​ˌstra-​ ; ˌsəb-​ˈstrā-​ , -​ˈstra-​ \

Definition of substratum

: an underlying support : foundation: such as
a : substance that is a permanent subject of qualities or phenomena
b : the material of which something is made and from which it derives its special qualities
c : a layer beneath the surface soil specifically : subsoil
e linguistics : a component of a language (such as a part of its phonology, syntax, or lexicon) that remains from absorption of a pre-existing language in the region where the language is currently spoken

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Other Words from substratum

substratal \ ˈsəb-​ˌstrā-​tᵊl How to pronounce substratum (audio) , -​ˌstra-​ ; ˌsəb-​ˈstrā-​ , -​ˈstra-​ \ adjective

Examples of substratum in a Sentence

drilled into the bedrock substratum
Recent Examples on the Web Sessions is speaking to a real perception of a significant substratum of the American citizenry. Christopher Shea, Vox, "Why Jeff Sessions thinks Christians are under siege in America," 1 Aug. 2018 Severance occurs when the tail tip adheres to the substratum and the rest of the planarian pulls away. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "Massive 18-inch hammerhead worms are invading France," 23 May 2018 Even here, though, abyssal tuba notes exposed a sonic substratum. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The L.A. Philharmonic Celebrates Iceland," 21 Apr. 2017

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

1631, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for substratum

Medieval Latin, from Latin, neuter of substratus, past participle of substernere to spread under, from sub- + sternere to spread — more at strew

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Time Traveler for substratum

Time Traveler

The first known use of substratum was in 1631

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Cite this Entry

“Substratum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for substratum



English Language Learners Definition of substratum

: a layer of something (such as soil or rock) that is under another layer


sub·​stra·​tum | \ ˈsəb-ˌstrāt-əm, -ˌstrat-, ˈsəb-ˈ How to pronounce substratum (audio) \
plural substrata\ -​ə How to pronounce substratum (audio) \

Medical Definition of substratum

1 : the material of which something is made and from which it derives its special qualities

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