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 Urban (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 Rising cases also could cause a shortage of poll workers that reduces the number of polling locations in urban areas, disproportionately affecting Democratic voters. Mark Niquette, Bloomberg.com, "Virus Cases Are Spiking Just When They Could Hurt Trump Most," 28 Oct. 2020 Right-wing political hoaxers Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman are charged with connecting to a multi-state robocall campaign that prosecutors say was meant to scare voters in urban areas out of voting by mail. Laura Johnston, cleveland, "Are Ohio leaders not investigating the coronavirus surge cause because they fear the answer? This Week in the CLE," 28 Oct. 2020 The pandemic has prompted Americans to opt for detached homes over living in crowded urban areas. Jay Heflin, Washington Examiner, "New home sales dip in September but are way up in the pandemic," 26 Oct. 2020 Mill Creek wants to build about 280 urban-style apartments in five stories on top of three levels of parking so that the apartments would have views over the adjacent river levee. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "Dallas riverside rental community will connect with planned parks," 23 Oct. 2020 Many of her buyers are making the move to find a more urban style of living without having to move into a big city. Hannah Selinger, WSJ, "Welcome to Newburyport, Where Million-Dollar Homes Are Flying Off the Shelves," 14 Oct. 2020 This British Isles expert, who has been planning across-the-pond trips for nearly 30 years, curates itineraries that combine urban high style with rural delights. Travel + Leisure, "Ellen LeCompte," 12 Oct. 2020 Forecasters expect Delta to produce 2 to 5 additional inches of rain, with potential of up to 10 inches, for northern Louisiana, southeast Arkansas, and western Mississippi, the NHC said, threatening flash and urban flooding. Paola Pérez, orlandosentinel.com, "Delta weakens to tropical depression with heavy rain, high gusts over western Mississippi," 10 Oct. 2020 There is a potential for 3 to 6 inches in the Southern Appalachians, which could lead to isolated flash, urban and small stream flooding. Carlie Wells, NOLA.com, "Hurricane Delta weakens slightly as it approaches Louisiana: See track, warnings," 9 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for urban

Time Traveler

The first known use of urban was circa 1634

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Statistics for urban

Last Updated

30 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Urban.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urban. Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for urban


How to pronounce Urban (audio)

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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