• synonyms


[in-suh b-stan-shuh l]
See more synonyms for insubstantial on Thesaurus.com
  1. not substantial or real; lacking substance: an insubstantial world of dreams.
  2. not solid or firm; weak; flimsy.
  3. not substantial in amount or size; inconsiderable: an insubstantial sum.
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Origin of insubstantial

From the Late Latin word insubstantiālis, dating back to 1600–10. See in-3, substantial
Related formsin·sub·stan·ti·al·i·ty, nounin·sub·stan·tial·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for insubstantiality

vulnerability, ailment, fragility, defect, deficiency, shortcoming, affliction, decay, imperfection, malady, feebleness, weakness, delicacy, decrepitude, malaise, frailty, debility, debilitation, fault, failing

Examples from the Web for insubstantiality

Historical Examples of insubstantiality

  • Her name is Miss Ethel, and she is a ladylike but depressing phenomenon, all made up of nerves and American insubstantiality.

    The Letters of William James, Vol. 1

    William James

  • Five miles up from their origin, at little more than atmospheric pressure, they made a rising column of insubstantiality.

    Creatures of the Abyss

    Murray Leinster

  • This showed to me the real shallowness and insubstantiality of the great world of finance.

British Dictionary definitions for insubstantiality


  1. not substantial; flimsy, tenuous, or slight
  2. imaginary; unreal
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Derived Formsinsubstantiality, nouninsubstantially, 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

Word Origin and History for insubstantiality


1827, from insubstantial + -ity.

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c.1600, from Medieval Latin insubstantialis, from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + substantialis (see substantial). Related: Insubstantially.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper