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 In my northern suburb, the poverty rate is less than 4%. Patton Dodd, Twin Cities, "Patton Dodd: Cities need housing. Churches have property. Can they work something out?," 7 Nov. 2019 Then leaders and residents will discuss the future of Airbnbs in the San Francisco suburb of 18,000. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Manhunt for Airbnb Halloween party shooter continues in California," 4 Nov. 2019 The fumes drift toward New Delhi and its suburbs, mixing with construction dust, vehicle emissions and smoke from fireworks displays during Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. New York Times, "What India Looks Like When the Air Turns to Poison," 4 Nov. 2019 Five people died after a Thursday night shooting that sent some 100 terrified partygoers running for their lives in the San Francisco suburb of Orinda., "Airbnb bans ‘party houses’ after California shooting kills 5 - The Boston Globe," 3 Nov. 2019 Five people died after a Thursday night shooting that sent some 100 terrified partygoers running for their lives in the San Francisco suburb of Orinda. Anchorage Daily News, "Airbnb bans ‘party houses’ after California shooting kills 5," 3 Nov. 2019 Gunshots were reported at about 10:45 p.m. Thursday at the large home in the wealthy San Francisco suburb of Orinda where more than 100 people had gathered, police said. Stefanie Dazio,, "Halloween party killings: 4 fatally shot in San Francisco Bay Area; 2 dead in Utah," 1 Nov. 2019 The vast majority of those suspensions affect motorists from low-income, black neighborhoods in Chicago and its suburbs, ProPublica Illinois has reported. Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, "Illinois Legislators Vote to End License Suspensions for Motorists With Unpaid Parking Tickets," 29 Oct. 2019 The board doesn't have the power to remove him from his office, which determines the value of properties for tax purposes in Phoenix and its suburbs. Fox News, "Arizona official charged in adoption scheme is suspended," 29 Oct. 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

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for suburb

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

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More Definitions for suburb


How to pronounce suburb (audio)

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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Comments on suburb

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

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