ur·ban | \ ˈər-bən \

Definition of urban 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city


biographical name
Ur·ban | \ ˈər-bən \

Definition of Urban (Entry 2 of 2)

name of 8 popes: especially II ( Odo \ˈō-(ˌ)dō \ of Lagery) circa 1035–1099 (pope 1088–99)

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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 urban in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Galvans, who run VMG Construction, opened 4 Locos in February, serving tacos of a variety found on the streets of Mexico’s urban centers. Kyle Arnold, OrlandoSentinel.com, "6 new things to check out in Winter Garden and 3 coming soon," 13 July 2018 Millennials are better educated than previous generations, and those with higher levels of education are leading the rush into urban centers. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Why aren’t millennials buying houses?," 11 July 2018 Analysts say about 80 percent of Helmand — prized for its vast opium poppy fields — has been under Taliban control since 2004, though urban centers had remained under government control. Rahim Faiez, Fox News, "Peace in Afghanistan more elusive as Taliban shrug off talks," 11 July 2018 Because natural habitats are disappearing, more and more coyotes are being sighted in urban settings. Cheryl Conley, Houston Chronicle, "The top dog: Coyotes are interesting canines," 10 July 2018 An engine that gets the job done, typically in an urban setting, is good enough. Al Haas, Philly.com, "Nissan's Kicks is a cute, useful hatchback, not a crossover," 5 July 2018 Before his first year of college was over, Maillefer found himself missing the Midwest in general, and an urban setting in particular. Samantha West, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Local bicyclist organizes '100 Days of Biking' hoping to get others to share the journey," 17 June 2018 Orange, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, writes about Native Americans who live in urban settings. Carole Goldberg, courant.com, "Local Authors Festival To Host Authors, Panel Discussions," 30 May 2018 The urban setting, and price point and ease of access also help set it apart from similar programs. Kathryn Gregory, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville's free Shakespeare festival is meant for 'entire community'," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'urban.' 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 urban


circa 1634, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for urban


Latin urbanus, from urbs city

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Statistics for urban

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for urban

The first known use of urban was circa 1634

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English Language Learners Definition of urban

: of or relating to cities and the people who live in them


ur·ban | \ ˈər-bən \

Kids Definition of urban

: of, relating to, or being a city urban life

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Comments on urban

What made you want to look up urban? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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