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unsubstantial

[uhn-suh b-stan-shuh l] /ˌʌn səbˈstæn ʃəl/
adjective
1.
not substantial; having no foundation in fact; fanciful; insubstantial:
an unsubstantial argument; unsubstantial hopes.
2.
without material substance:
an unsubstantial ghost.
3.
lacking material substance; materially paltry:
an unsubstantial dinner of bread and cheese.
4.
lacking strength or solidity; flimsy:
an unsubstantial wall of cardboard.
Origin of unsubstantial
late Middle English
1425-1475
late Middle English word dating back to 1425-75; See origin at un-1, substantial
Related forms
unsubstantiality, noun
unsubstantially, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for unsubstantial
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Within a minute afterwards, he was, to all outward appearance, as unsubstantial as ever.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • Were I a fat man I could not bear it, but I am as unsubstantial as they themselves.

  • Scott, in Old Mortality, uses it in the moral sense, "unsubstantial."

    The Proverbs of Scotland Alexander Hislop
  • No darkness of the sky, or concentration of unsubstantial vapour.

    The Death Shot Mayne Reid
  • That was why the glories were so unsubstantial, and why the dream must end at midnight.

    A Modern Cinderella Amanda M. Douglas
  • The smoke gave them a wavering aspect as though their shapes were unsubstantial.

    Blackbeard: Buccaneer Ralph D. Paine
  • For now the triumph faded away, the unsubstantial pageant was no more.

    Double Harness Anthony Hope
  • Men were dissatisfied with the unsubstantial dream of Platonist and Stoic.

  • All the fishing I did that year was in the prolific but unsubstantial waters of dreamland.

    The Copperhead Harold Frederic
British Dictionary definitions for unsubstantial

unsubstantial

/ˌʌnsəbˈstænʃəl/
adjective
1.
lacking weight, strength, or firmness
2.
(esp of an argument) of doubtful validity
3.
of no material existence or substance; unreal
Derived Forms
unsubstantiality, noun
unsubstantially, adverb
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 unsubstantial
adj.

mid-15c., from un- (1) "not" + substantial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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