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[suhb-strey-tuh m, -strat-uh m, suhb-strey-tuh m, -strat-uh m] /ˈsʌbˌstreɪ təm, -ˌstræt əm, sʌbˈstreɪ təm, -ˈstræt əm/
noun, plural substrata
[suhb-strey-tuh, -strat-uh, -suhb-strey-tuh, -strat-uh] /ˈsʌbˌstreɪ tə, -ˌstræt ə, -sʌbˈstreɪ tə, -ˈstræt ə/ (Show IPA),
something that is spread or laid under something else; a stratum or layer lying under another.
something that underlies or serves as a basis or foundation.
Agriculture. the subsoil.
Biology. the base or material on which a nonmotile organism lives or grows.
Philosophy. substance, considered as that which supports accidents or attributes.
Photography. a layer of material placed directly on a film or plate as a foundation for the sensitive emulsion.
Historical Linguistics. a set of features of a language traceable to the influence of an earlier language that it has replaced, especially among a subjugated population:
The French word for 80, quatre-vingts (“four twenties”), may reflect a Celtic substratum.
Compare superstratum.
Origin of substratum
From New Latin, dating back to 1625-35; See origin at sub-, stratum
Related forms
substrative, substratal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for substratum


/sʌbˈstrɑːtəm; -ˈstreɪ-/
noun (pl) -strata (-ˈstrɑːtə; -ˈstreɪtə)
any layer or stratum lying underneath another
a basis or foundation; groundwork
the nonliving material on which an animal or plant grows or lives
  1. the solid rock underlying soils, gravels, etc; bedrock
  2. the surface to which a fixed organism is attached
(sociol) any of several subdivisions or grades within a stratum
(photog) a binding layer by which an emulsion is made to adhere to a glass or film base Sometimes shortened to sub
(philosophy) substance considered as that in which attributes and accidents inhere
(linguistics) the language of an indigenous population when replaced by the language of a conquering or colonizing population, esp as it influences the form of the dominant language or of any mixed languages arising from their contact Compare superstratum (sense 2)
Derived Forms
substrative, substratal, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin, from Latin substrātus strewn beneath, from substernere to spread under, from sub- + sternere to spread
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 substratum

1630s, from Modern Latin substratum (plural substrata), neuter singular past participle of Latin substernere "to spread underneath," from sub- (see sub-) + sternere (see stratum).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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substratum in Science
  (sŭb'strā'təm, -strāt'əm)   
Plural substrata or substratums
  1. An underlying layer or stratum.

  2. A surface on which an organism grows or is attached; a substrate.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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