suburb

noun
sub·​urb | \ ˈsə-ˌbərb How to pronounce suburb (audio) \

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 How to pronounce suburban (audio) \ adjective or noun
suburbanite \ sə-​ˈbər-​bə-​ˌnīt How to pronounce suburbanite (audio) \ 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

The dream was an elevated rail system to bypass what has been some of the country’s worst traffic, whisking commuters from the farmland and swelling suburbs of West Oahu into the heart of Honolulu. Paul Overberg, WSJ, "How a Train Through Paradise Turned Into a $9 Billion Debacle," 22 Mar. 2019 In 2008, the Charmoys bought and moved into a two-story modern stone house with a turret in La Palmeraie, an elegant upscale suburb within a natural, 54-square-mile palm grove. Gisela Williams, ELLE Decor, "A Marrakech Home is Transformed with a Modern New Layout Made for Entertaining," 18 Mar. 2019 Founded in 1964, when the surrounding suburbs were farmland, HACC is the oldest community college in Pennsylvania and serves 19,000 credit-seeking students and 6,000 other students in non-credit programs. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Become a Skilled Tradesperson," 13 Mar. 2019 Snap some pics with Auckland’s skyline or suburbs in the background, or stare down at the huge emerald hollow. Andrea Bartz, Marie Claire, "The Instagram Guide to Auckland, New Zealand," 11 Feb. 2019 The number of cases in the city center is still low, according to Doctors Without Borders, but that number is rising quickly in more outlying districts and suburbs. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Ebola outbreak reaches city of 1 million residents," 14 Dec. 2018 Waymo Waymo’s self-driving car unit officially launched the first commercial driverless taxi service in a roughly 100-mile zone across four Phoenix suburbs. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Going for a ride in Waymo’s just-launched driverless taxi service," 6 Dec. 2018 His Early Life Born to Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush, on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, George Herbert Walker Bush spent most of his childhood in the well-to-do suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "George H.W. Bush Has Died at Age 94," 1 Dec. 2018 Liberals envision that the bullet train will someday turn Fresno and Merced into Silicon Valley suburbs and ease the Bay Area’s housing shortage. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Death of a California Dream," 13 Feb. 2019

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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Statistics for suburb

Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for suburb

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

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More Definitions for suburb

suburb

noun

English Language Learners Definition of suburb

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

suburb

noun
sub·​urb | \ ˈsə-ˌbərb How to pronounce suburb (audio) \

Kids Definition of suburb

: a smaller community close to a city

Other Words from suburb

suburban \ sə-​ˈbər-​bən \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on suburb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with suburb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for suburb

Spanish Central: Translation of suburb

Nglish: Translation of suburb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of suburb for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about suburb

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