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 Katy area is now home to a new era of food-savvy entrepreneurs turning the once-small suburb into one of Houston's most exciting and culturally diverse dining communities, according to the Chronicle's Food Editor, Greg Morago. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Where to eat: Katy's blazing restaurant scene challenges cookie-cutter chains," 5 July 2019 By the 1950s, Good Humor’s fleet grew to 2,000 trucks that migrated into the suburbs to serve the post-World War II Baby Boomer generation. Ron Hurtibise,, "With much Good Humor, vintage ice cream trucks serve nostalgia on a stick," 4 July 2019 More than 100,000 people have left the capital’s outlying suburbs for the city centre. The Economist, "A warlord’s offensive against Tripoli is flagging," 4 July 2019 In the communities around O’Hare, complaints shot up in recent years after the city began shifting traffic from diagonal runways to new parallel east-west runways, which concentrate more traffic over the city’s North Side and the western suburbs. Mary Wisniewski,, "Long wait for FAA noise study raises questions: Quigley," 3 July 2019 Additionally, many of the areas with the strongest restrictions on housing — wealthy suburbs — receive relatively little in the way of federal funds, so HUD doesn’t have much of a carrot with which to persuade local lawmakers. James P. Sutton, National Review, "YIMBYism Goes National," 1 July 2019 By that time, downtown was at a low point, with businesses and residents fleeing for the suburbs. Sal Pizarro, The Mercury News, "After 170 years, First Presbyterian Church of San Jose closes its doors downtown," 1 July 2019 Most of North Texas' net office leasing this year has been in business districts north of Fort Worth, in Dallas' northern suburbs and in the Uptown-Turtle Creek area of Dallas. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "D-FW office buildings landed some big tenants in the second quarter," 1 July 2019 Higher costs of living could partly be to blame, causing more people in recent years to trade urban life for the suburbs. Fox News, "Lone Star tick, known to cause red meat allergy, found in northern Wisconsin: report," 30 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

9 Jul 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



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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characterized by aphorism

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