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

Keanon Lowe grew up in the Portland suburb of Gresham, eight miles west of Parkrose, across the Willamette River. Greg Bishop,, "‘Active Shooter!’ How Life Put Keanon Lowe Where He Was Supposed to Be," 29 Aug. 2019 In the Washington suburbs, Montgomery County — with Maryland’s largest school system — outperformed the state, with more than half of students reaching the benchmark on English exams. Washington Post, "Maryland students show gains on state English tests, declines in math," 27 Aug. 2019 Costco opened its first warehouse club in China today (Aug. 27), in a suburb of Shanghai. Echo Huang, Quartz, "Here are the crazy scenes from Costco’s opening day in China," 27 Aug. 2019 But the house, located at 9120 Performance Ct., backs up to a full-scale, 1.7-mile racetrack at the Villas at MotorSport Ranch subdivision in the suburb of Cresson. Houston Chronicle, "North Texas home has a race track for a backyard, and six-car garage. Buy it for only $449,000," 22 Aug. 2019 Thousands have been following the life of one-in-million yellow cardinal nicknamed Mister Yellow since he was spotted in the Birmingham suburb of Alabaster in February 20198. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Exceedingly Rare Albino Hummingbird Spotted in Alabama Backyard," 14 Aug. 2019 The forum came five years and a day after the shooting of Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old black man, by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., setting off riots and a national reckoning about policing and bias. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "At gun control forum after El Paso rampage, 2020 Dems join Bloomberg boasting that NRA is on the run," 10 Aug. 2019 ProPublica Illinois found more than 40 guardianship cases fitting this profile filed between January 2018 and June 2019 in the Chicago suburbs of Lake County. Duaa Eldeib, ProPublica, "Illinois Lawmakers Call Hearing to “Demand Answers” and Find Ways to Close a Loophole in College Financial Aid Scandal," 2 Aug. 2019 February 2012: The body of Tsutomu Omori, managing director of Olympus Medical Systems India, was found hanging in a park at a luxury high-rise apartment complex in a suburb of Gurugram. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "VG Siddhartha’s death puts the spotlight on a serious crisis among Indian entrepreneurs," 1 Aug. 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

3 Sep 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

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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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