a secondary or subordinate plot, as in a play, novel, or other literary work; underplot.Compare counterplot(def 2).

Origin of subplot

First recorded in 1915–20; sub- + plot Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subplot

Contemporary Examples of subplot

  • The subplot is always whether The Company will outrun her latest mood swing, which also turns out to be somehow brilliant.

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    How Crazy Became All the Rage on TV

    Elizabeth Wurtzel

    October 11, 2013

  • One subplot exchanges homeless people for illegal immigrants crossing into the United States.

  • Meanwhile there is a subplot (of sorts) about five people who all had a role in a crooked real estate deal.

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    Saw, Scrutinized

    Choire Sicha

    October 23, 2009

  • Kinsella deserves some credit for writing a subplot about a gay character coming to terms with his sexuality in The Wedding Girl.

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    Summer's Top Chick Lit Reads

    Marisa Meltzer

    July 20, 2009

  • But what exactly would turn psychotropic drugs like Prozac and Paxil and Zoloft into a subplot in the subprime mess?

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    Anti-Depressant Nation

    Adam Hanft

    October 5, 2008

British Dictionary definitions for subplot



a subordinate or auxiliary plot in a novel, play, film, etc
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 subplot

also sub-plot, 1812 in literature, from sub- + plot (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper