• synonyms


[in-suh b-stan-shuh l]
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  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

Examples from the Web for insubstantiality

Historical Examples

  • 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