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See more synonyms for subsoil on Thesaurus.com
  1. the bed or stratum of earth or earthy material immediately under the surface soil.
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Origin of subsoil

First recorded in 1790–1800; sub- + soil1
Also called undersoil.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

land, dirt, terrain, shore, surface, coast, mud, clay, dust, turf, gravel, sand, clod, sod, muck, compost, deposit, mold, fill, marl

Examples from the Web for subsoil

Historical Examples

  • It provides that the State is entitled to retain what they call ‘subsoil rights.’

    Across the Mesa

    Jarvis Hall

  • I think, however, I will turn over a furrow of subsoil in it.

    The Professor at the Breakfast Table

    Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.)

  • The strength of team depends entirely on the character of the subsoil.

    Farm drainage

    Henry Flagg French

  • The subsoil is a store of inert fertility that should not remain dormant.

  • They improve the physical condition of the subsoil as well as the top soil.

British Dictionary definitions for subsoil


    1. Also called: undersoilthe layer of soil beneath the surface soil and overlying the bedrock
    2. (as modifier)a subsoil plough
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  1. (tr) to plough (land) to a depth below the normal ploughing level and so break up the subsoil
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Derived Formssubsoiler, noun
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 subsoil


1799, from sub- + soil (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

subsoil in Science


  1. In an ABC soil, the B horizon. The term was formerly used to mean the layer of earth below the humus or surface soil.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.