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

Essential Meaning of urban

: of or relating to cities and the people who live in them urban life/culture urban housing an urban neighborhood

Full 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 The show-within-a-show consisted of mural-sized urban landscapes photographed from major billboards along regional highways or major streets. Steven Litt, cleveland, 17 Oct. 2021 This polished property is just over 30 minutes from the park's west entrance, but has more of an urban feel thanks to its location near downtown Whitefish. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 17 Oct. 2021 Buying ads to reach suburban voters requires advertising in pricier urban television markets. The New York Times, Arkansas Online, 17 Oct. 2021 By the way, this Bat-ride looks more like an armored muscle car than the urban tanks of the Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder iterations. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 16 Oct. 2021 Buying ads to reach suburban voters requires advertising in pricier urban television markets. New York Times, 16 Oct. 2021 And then there's the rural part, the urban part, all of this. Condé Nast Traveler, 15 Oct. 2021 Overshadowed by many stories about the exodus of urban workers are the accounts of those left behind. Ashley Stahl, Forbes, 15 Oct. 2021 Among the metropolitan areas surveyed, the largest and most urban places had some of the lowest price increases. Max Rust, WSJ, 15 Oct. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near urban




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Statistics for urban

Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Urban.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urban. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for urban


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

Kids Definition of urban

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

More from Merriam-Webster on urban

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for urban

Nglish: Translation of urban for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of urban for Arabic Speakers


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