ur·​ban | \ ˈər-bən How to pronounce urban (audio) \

Definition of urban

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


biographical name
Ur·​ban | \ ˈər-bən How to pronounce Urban (audio) \

Definition of Urban (Entry 2 of 2)

name of 8 popes: especially II ( Odo \ ˈō-​(ˌ)dō How to pronounce ˈō-(ˌ)dō (audio)\ 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

More local data allowed researchers to get a better sense of what could happen in rural counties, compared to urban centers. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "A $15 federal minimum wage won’t cost Americans jobs, new study says," 2 July 2019 The theory of a hotel deficit applies to several urban centers across Africa which are still regarded as high-growth markets for hotels. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Lagos has become one of Airbnb’s fastest-growing markets globally," 27 June 2019 Most candidates are current or former members of Congress, while others hail from state or even municipal offices: de Blasio is mayor of the nation’s most populous urban center New York City, and Inslee is governor of Washington. Renae Reints, Fortune, "What the 2020 Democratic Candidates Didn’t Say During the First Debate," 27 June 2019 Such high costs in California and other major West Coast urban centers like Seattle have been blamed for driving people into homelessness or to cheaper states. Andrew Khouri, latimes.com, "Southern California home prices are flat in May as sales fall," 26 June 2019 For Finley, the sometimes-wild ride presented a unique opportunity to glean important insights about how rivers across Colorado and the West are tapped and manipulated to meet an increasing demand from growing urban centers. The Denver Post, "Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of June 17-23," 23 June 2019 That, plus the businesses along 163rd Avenue, would mean a new urban center. Riley Murdock, azcentral, "Development marches past the edge of metro Phoenix, swallowing ‘the nothingness, the openness, the freedom’," 22 June 2019 The Tijuana and Playas de Rosarito area in Baja California is one Mexico’s largest urban centers, with an official population of about 1.64 million people. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Trump EPA releases blueprint for stemming Tijuana River pollution that routinely fouls San Diego beaches," 10 June 2019 The rally, which is expected to include appearances by First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence, is the first event held by the Republican presidential incumbent in the deep-blue urban center of Orlando. Ryan Gillespie, orlandosentinel.com, "President Trump’s Orlando campaign stop will create traffic woes. Here are the roads to avoid June 18 — but there could be more," 6 June 2019

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

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for urban

The first known use of urban was circa 1634

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More Definitions for urban



English Language Learners Definition of urban

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


ur·​ban | \ ˈər-bən How to pronounce urban (audio) \

Kids Definition of urban

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on urban

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with urban

Spanish Central: Translation of urban

Nglish: Translation of urban for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of urban for Arabic Speakers

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