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[suhb-sti-toot, -tyoot] /ˈsʌb stɪˌtut, -ˌtyut/
a person or thing acting or serving in place of another.
(formerly) a person who, for payment, served in an army or navy in the place of a conscript.
Grammar. a word that functions as a replacement for any member of a class of words or constructions, as do in He doesn't know but I do.
verb (used with object), substituted, substituting.
to put (a person or thing) in the place of another.
to take the place of; replace.
Chemistry. to replace (one or more elements or groups in a compound) by other elements or groups.
verb (used without object), substituted, substituting.
to act as a substitute.
of or relating to a substitute or substitutes.
composed of substitutes.
Origin of substitute
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin substitūtus (past participle of substituere to put in place of), equivalent to sub- sub- + -stitū-, combining form of statū-, past participle stem of statuere (see substituent) + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
substitutable, adjective
substitutability, noun
substituter, noun
substitutingly, adverb
substitution, noun
substitutional, substitutionary
[suhb-sti-too-shuh-ner-ee, -tyoo-] /ˌsʌb stɪˈtu ʃəˌnɛr i, -ˈtyu-/ (Show IPA),
substitutionally, adverb
intersubstitutability, noun
intersubstitutable, adjective
intersubstitution, noun
nonsubstituted, adjective
nonsubstitution, noun
nonsubstitutional, adjective
nonsubstitutionally, adverb
nonsubstitutionary, adjective
presubstitute, verb (used with object), presubstituted, presubstituting.
presubstitution, noun
prosubstitution, adjective
unsubstituted, adjective
1. alternative, replacement, equivalent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for substitute
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the hoist for 220 the second flag was the "substitute," duplicating the numeral "2."

    British Flags W. G. Perrin
  • Sacral harlotry was a substitute for the child sacrifice of females.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Let settle, pour off the hydrochloric acid, substitute nitric acid in its place, and boil again for two or three minutes.

  • To search for that substitute was the sole work left for Madeleine's hands.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • The first officer gave out completely after ten boys had been punished, and a substitute—the school carpenter—took his place.

    My Life Josiah Flynt
British Dictionary definitions for substitute


(often foll by for) to serve or cause to serve in place of another person or thing
(chem) to replace (an atom or group in a molecule) with (another atom or group)
(logic, maths) to replace (one expression) by (another) in the context of a third, as replacing x + y for x in 3x = k gives 3x + 3y = k
  1. a person or thing that serves in place of another, such as a player in a game who takes the place of an injured colleague
  2. (as modifier): a substitute goalkeeper Often shortened to sub
(grammar) another name for pro-form
(Canadian) another name for supply teacher
(nautical) another word for repeater (sense 5)
(formerly) a person paid to replace another due for military service
Derived Forms
substitutable, adjective
substitutability, noun
Usage note
Substitute is sometimes wrongly used where replace is meant: he replaced (not substituted) the worn tyre with a new one
Word Origin
C16: from Latin substituere, from sub- in place of + statuere to set up
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for substitute

early 15c. in transitive sense, 1888 as intransitive, from Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere (see substitution). Related: Substituted; substituting.


"one who acts in place of another," early 15c., from Old French substitute and directly from Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere (see substitution). Team sports sense is from 1849.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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substitute in Technology

(SUB) ASCII character 26.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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