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

Northwest Indiana’s five casinos draw a large number of their clients from the Chicago area, including the south suburbs and southern portion of the city. Karen Caffarini, Post-Tribune, "Northwest Indiana gaming experts preparing for new competition from Illinois," 7 June 2019 So, the cost to own and drive a car in Illinois just increased by at least $164 a year for the average motorist, possibly more in Chicago and the suburbs. The state's cigarette tax will increase by $1 a pack, from $1.98 to $2.98. Dan Mccaleb, Daily Southtown, "McCaleb: Lawmakers 'hard work' pays off for them, not taxpayers," 7 June 2019 In 1993, Gail Eastwood-Ritchey, 49, of the Cleveland suburb of Euclid, allegedly abandoned her baby shortly after he was born, leaving the child’s body to be mauled by animals and dragged onto a roadway, say authorities. Kc Baker,, "Ohio Mom Accused of Leaving Baby to Die in Woods in 1993 Allegedly Admits to 'Similar Crime'," 7 June 2019 S&T Bancorp, based in Indiana, Pa., between State College and Pittsburgh, has agreed to pay stock worth $206 million to acquire DNB Financial Corp. and its 14 branches in Philadelphia’s western suburbs. Joseph N. Distefano,, "Upstate Pa. bank swoops in to buy DNB of Downingtown for $206 million," 6 June 2019 In addition, several counties in the state flipped Democratic during the 2018 election, including Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth and some of the surrounding Fort Worth and Dallas suburbs. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "Poll shows tight Trump-Biden matchup in Texas," 5 June 2019 Among the other Kentucky suburbs that made the cut were Lakeside Park, Edgewood and Alexandria. Maia Anderson,, "What's the best Cincinnati suburb? It's Madeira, magazine says," 5 June 2019 Skokie first voted to follow the Cook County ordinance in a crowded and heated meeting in July 2017, a period of time in which many suburbs were opting out. Genevieve Bookwalter,, "Skokie drops recent proposal to opt out of Cook County minimum wage ordinance," 4 June 2019 Buffalo Grove, IllinoisThis northwest Chicago suburb is hosting its first Pride celebration on June 2 thanks to the hard work of its 13-year-old organizer, Molly Pinta, according to the Chicago Reader. Kaylen Ralph, Teen Vogue, "9 Places That Are Hosting Their First-Ever Pride Celebrations in 2019," 1 June 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

11 Jun 2019

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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 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 Encyclopedia article about suburb

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