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

In an idyllic suburb of Albany, N.Y., members of an organization called Nxivm held barbecues and played volleyball. Corinne Ramey, WSJ, "Con Man or Charismatic Figure? Lawyers Paint Differing Portraits at Start of ‘Nxivm’ Trial," 7 May 2019 The study examines the environmentally friendly German suburb Vauban, which already puts an emphasis on environmentalism. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Could We Re-Engineer A/Cs To Help Battle Climate Change?," 30 Apr. 2019 Among them were the eventual winners: a Virginia suburb outside of Washington, D.C., and New York's Long Island City. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "A Timeline of Amazon's "HQ2," From the First Announcement to a Failed Campus in New York City," 14 Feb. 2019 Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images In the early hours of November 11, 2018, 26-year-old Jemel Roberson was working security at a bar in the Chicago suburbs when a shooting broke out. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "A black security guard caught a shooting suspect — only to be shot by police minutes later," 23 Jan. 2019 The Anger Groups finally mobilized in October after a Change.org petition about fuel taxes went viral within a small Parisian suburb. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook’s role in the French protests has polarized observers," 11 Dec. 2018 The mother of two lives in a suburb of Jackson and founded the bike team in part so that her 15-year-old son, who was racing in the local adult league, could race against other teens. Tess Strokes, Outside Online, "Trading Football for Fat Tires in Mississippi," 6 June 2018 DeAngelo, a 72-year-old retired police officer was linked to the crimes via DNA evidence, and arrested in his home in a suburb of Sacramento, near where many of the crimes were committed, on April 24th of this year. refinery29.com, "Golden State Killer Suspect Joseph James DeAngelo Charged With 4 More Murders," 11 May 2018 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

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

14 May 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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