sub·​var·​i·​ant ˌsəb-ˈver-ē-ənt How to pronounce subvariant (audio)
plural subvariants
: one of two or more distinctive forms or types of the same variant
New York state health officials said mid-April that the Omicron subvariants known as BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 accounted for more than 90 percent of new cases in central New York state.The Boston Globe
… the subvariant differs in some of the mutations, including in the spike protein …Shepard Price
Dodge now has the 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye, a more street-friendly, less drag-strip-intended subvariant of the 840-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.Robert Duffer
He described it as a subvariant of the New England IPA, which is indeed one of the hottest beer styles going right now.Chris Drosner
He's superb, as is the wincing, cringing Shandling, who plays a subvariant of the same sort of scoundrel.Jonathan Lethem

Examples of subvariant in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some 389,648 people in Israel have so far taken the shot, which targets the original strain and its BA.4/BA.5 Omicron subvariant. Fox News, 19 Jan. 2023 The majority of positive cases are attributed to the BA.5 omicron subvariant, which is now the dominant variant. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, 6 Aug. 2022 Take the recent news about the latest Omicron subvariant, labeled BA.5. Kent Sepkowitz, CNN, 20 July 2022 But so far this variant has made little headway outside of India, casting doubt on its ability to supplant the dominant Omicron subvariant. Globe Staff,, 8 Oct. 2022 The boosters' bivalent formula targets both the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariant, as well as the original strain of the virus that circulated back in 2020. Brigid Kennedy, The Week, 31 Aug. 2022 Although the latest omicron subvariant, BA.5, has fueled a wave of infections in many parts of the country over the past two months, the great majority of those cases have not required hospitalization. Lena H. Sun and Joel Achenbach, Anchorage Daily News, 12 Aug. 2022 But officials also are closely watching a new Omicron subvariant, BA.4.6. Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2022 The move comes amid a surge in the highly transmissible BA.5 omicron subvariant; The New York Times counted 2,576 new cases in California's Santa Clara County—home to Apple HQ—as of the week ending July 29. Stephanie Mlot, PCMAG, 2 Aug. 2022

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

Word History


sub- + variant entry 2

First Known Use

1901, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of subvariant was in 1901

Dictionary Entries Near subvariant

Cite this Entry

“Subvariant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


sub·​var·​i·​ant ˌsəb-ˈver-ē-ənt How to pronounce subvariant (audio)
: one of two or more distinctive forms or types of the same variant
a highly contagious subvariant of the virus
Of the identified Omicron subvariants, the subvariant BA.1 was dominantly prevalent in the early days after Omicron emerged from November 2021.Hirofumi Ohashi et al., Antiviral Research
UP [=urticaria pigmentosa] is the most frequent form of cutaneous mastocytosis. A subvariant consists of non-pigmented, plaque forming lesions that occur most often in infants.M. C. Carter and D. D. Metcalfe, Archives of Disease in Childhood
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