1. a submarine.
  2. a substitute.
  3. a submarine sandwich. See hero sandwich.
  4. a subcontractor.
  5. a sublieutenant.
  6. a subordinate.
  7. a subaltern.
  8. British. an advance against one's wages, especially one granted as a subsistence allowance.
  9. Photography. a substratum.
verb (used without object), subbed, sub·bing.
  1. to act as a substitute for another.
verb (used with object), subbed, sub·bing.
  1. Photography. to coat (a film or plate) with a substratum.

Origin of sub

by shortening of words prefixed with sub-

Regional variation note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for subs

Contemporary Examples of subs

Historical Examples of subs

British Dictionary definitions for subs


  1. short for several words beginning with sub-See subaltern, subeditor, submarine, subordinate, subscription, substandard, substitute, substratum (def. 6)
  2. British informal an advance payment of wages or salaryFormal term: subsistence allowance
verb subs, subbing or subbed
  1. (intr) to serve as a substitute
  2. (intr) informal to act as a substitute (for)
  3. British informal to grant or receive (an advance payment of wages or salary)
  4. (tr) informal short for subedit
  5. (tr) photog to apply a substratum to (a film or plate base)
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 subs



shortened form of substitute, 1830; the verb in this sense is from 1853. Related: Subbed; subbing. From 1917 as short for submarine (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper