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 suburb (audio) \ adjective or noun
suburbanite \ sə-​ˈbər-​bə-​ˌnīt How to pronounce suburb (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 Residents in this Minneapolis suburb won’t get to vote on a ballot question in November that seeks to eliminate Minnesota’s largest police department, but some say the issue may influence their votes in next year’s midterm elections. John Mccormick, WSJ, 3 Sep. 2021 An excavation of the yard in the 3900 block of South Center Avenue in the southwest suburb is to take place Saturday, according to Lyons police Chief Thomas Herion. Mariah Rush,, 27 Aug. 2021 The western half of the ZIP code includes stable middle-class homes that blend into the affluent suburb of Wauwatosa. John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Aug. 2021 At the funeral mass last week at St. Teresa of Avila Church, which looks out over the leafy suburb of Summit, N.J, the 19-year-old offered a moving eulogy that brought a rousing response from the approximately 200 people who attended. Ed Silverman Reprints, STAT, 22 Aug. 2021 Closer to home, in the Boston suburb of Arlington, health authorities this week voted to require masks in all public and private spaces that are open to the public., 20 Aug. 2021 The difference between the Chagrin Falls and Bay Village meetings was that more residents showed up to the one in the western suburb. Eric Heisig, cleveland, 19 Aug. 2021 Born in Athens in 1998, Tsitsipas grew up in the seaside suburb of Vouliagmeni. Lauren Collins, Vogue, 16 Aug. 2021 In the fall of 2018, a Snapchat video began circulating in the wealthy Dallas suburb of Southlake, Texas. Jake Bittle, The New Republic, 13 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for suburb

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

11 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Suburb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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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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