suburb

noun

sub·​urb ˈsə-ˌbərb How to pronounce suburb (audio)
1
a
: 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
suburban adjective or noun
suburbanite noun

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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 Several new businesses have opened or are set to open in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee during the coming months. Claudia Levens, Journal Sentinel, 16 May 2024 During the height of the pandemic, many people were working remotely and moving out from cities and suburbs to outlying areas. Kori Rumore, Chicago Tribune, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for suburb 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'suburb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near suburb

Cite this Entry

“Suburb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suburb. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

suburb

noun
sub·​urb ˈsəb-ˌərb How to pronounce suburb (audio)
1
a
: a part of a city or town near its outer edge
b
: a smaller community close to a city
2
plural : the area of homes close to or surrounding a city
suburban adjective or noun
Etymology

Middle English suburb "part around the outer edge of a city," from early French (same meaning), from Latin suburbium (same meaning), from sub "under, close to" and urbs "city"

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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