[ suhb-stuhns ]
See synonyms for: substancesubstances on

  1. that of which a thing consists; physical matter or material: form and substance.

  2. a species of matter of definite chemical composition: a chalky substance.

  1. the subject matter of thought, discourse, study, etc.

  2. the actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality.

  3. substantial or solid character or quality: claims lacking in substance.

  4. consistency; body: soup without much substance.

  5. the meaning or gist, as of speech or writing.

  6. something that has separate or independent existence.

  7. Philosophy.

    • something that exists by itself and in which accidents or attributes inhere; that which receives modifications and is not itself a mode; something that is causally active; something that is more than an event.

    • the essential part of a thing; essence.

    • a thing considered as a continuing whole.

  8. possessions, means, or wealth: to squander one's substance.

  9. Linguistics. the articulatory or acoustic reality or the perceptual manifestation of a word or other construction (distinguished from form).

  10. a standard of weights for paper.

Idioms about substance

  1. in substance,

Origin of substance

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English, from Latin substantia “substance, essence” (literally, “that which stands under, i.e., underlies”), equivalent to sub- “under, beneath” + -stant- (stem of stāns, present participle of stāre “to stand”) + -ia noun suffix; see sub-, stand, -ia; see also -ance

synonym study For substance

1. See matter.

Other words for substance

Other words from substance

  • sub·stance·less, adjective

Words Nearby substance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use substance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for substance


/ (ˈsʌbstəns) /

  1. the tangible matter of which a thing consists

  2. a specific type of matter, esp a homogeneous material with a definite composition

  1. the essence, meaning, etc, of a written or spoken thought

  2. solid or meaningful quality

  3. material density: a vacuum has no substance

  4. material possessions or wealth: a man of substance

  5. philosophy

    • the supposed immaterial substratum that can receive modifications and in which attributes and accidents inhere

    • a thing considered as a continuing whole that survives the changeability of its properties

  6. Christian Science that which is eternal

  7. a euphemistic term for any illegal drug

  8. in substance with regard to the salient points

Origin of substance

C13: via Old French from Latin substantia, from substāre, from sub- + stāre to stand

Derived forms of substance

  • substanceless, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with substance


see in substance; sum and substance.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.