sub·urb | \ˈsə-ˌbərb \

Definition of suburb 

1a : an outlying part of a city or town

b : a smaller community adjacent to or within commuting distance of a city

c suburbs plural : the residential area on the outskirts of a city or large town

2 suburbs plural : the near vicinity : environs

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Other Words from suburb

suburban \sə-ˈbər-bən \ adjective or noun
suburbanite \sə-ˈbər-bə-ˌnīt \ noun

The Suburbs vs. the Urbs

Given that most of the common words in our language beginning sub- tend to have meanings concerned with “beneath” (as in subterranean and submarine) or “less than” (as with subpar), you would be forgiven for assuming that the suburbs were so named because of their location below, or their status as less than, their urban counterparts. Not so, however: sub- may have other meanings at the beginning of a word; in this case, it indicates not depth or inferiority, but proximity. In other words, the suburbs are a region close to the urbs.

Is urbs an English word? Yes; it is rarely used, but it refers typically to a city, particularly when distinguished from a suburb.

Examples of suburb in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Overnight temperatures are slow to drop through the 80s, reaching the upper 70s for lows in the suburbs and closer to 80 downtown. Brian Jackson, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Sweltering conditions will persist through Independence Day," 1 July 2018 After mass shootings in the nation’s suburbs and rural communities, people gather, light candles and listen to the words of survivors, political leaders and clergy. Dan Rodricks,, "In Annapolis, a perfect breeze to heal and unify," 30 June 2018 President Bashar Assad’s recent military victories, including the capture of Damascus suburbs and southern neighborhoods, have propelled the push. Alice Su, The Seattle Times, "Fighting in Syria’s south escalates, displaces 50,000 people," 26 June 2018 President Bashar Assad’s recent military victories, including the capture of Damascus suburbs and southern neighborhoods, have propelled the push. Bassem Mroue And Alice Su,, "Fighting in Syria’s south escalates, displacing up to 50,000 people; Jordan keeps border sealed," 26 June 2018 The demographic line that used to divide city and suburb is blurring. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Why Democrats should take mayors seriously as presidential candidates," 22 June 2018 Democrats think their path to retaking the House runs through the suburbs and New Jersey is full of them. Author: Maggie Astor, Anchorage Daily News, "Eight states have primaries on Tuesday. Here’s what to watch for.," 6 June 2018 Amazon hasn't ruled out going to a suburb and could choose another location based on other factors, but few cities have such a prime site to offer. James Briggs, Indianapolis Star, "How a little-known Indianapolis developer got in position to land Amazon's HQ2," 3 June 2018 Student activists emerged in cities, suburbs and towns, including Fort Worth, Southlake and even Alpine in West Texas. Diane Smith, star-telegram, "Spurred to act over shootings, graduating seniors promise to 'save the world'," 1 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for suburb

Middle English suburbe, from Anglo-French, from Latin suburbium, from sub- near + urbs city — more at sub-

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Phrases Related to suburb

the suburbs

Statistics for suburb

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for suburb

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

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More Definitions for suburb



English Language Learners Definition of suburb

: a town or other area where people live in houses near a larger city


sub·urb | \ˈsə-ˌbərb \

Kids Definition of suburb

: a smaller community close to a city

Other Words from suburb

suburban \sə-ˈbər-bən \ adjective

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