View synonyms for substance


[ suhb-stuhns ]


  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.

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

    Synonyms: subject, theme

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

    Synonyms: essence

  5. substantial or solid character or quality:

    claims lacking in substance.

  6. soup without much substance.

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

    Synonyms: pith, import, significance

  8. something that has separate or independent existence.
  9. Philosophy.
    1. 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.
    2. the essential part of a thing; essence.
    3. a thing considered as a continuing whole.
  10. possessions, means, or wealth:

    to squander one's substance.

  11. Linguistics. the articulatory or acoustic reality or the perceptual manifestation of a word or other construction ( form ).
  12. a standard of weights for paper.


/ ˈsʌbstəns /


  1. the tangible matter of which a thing consists
  2. a specific type of matter, esp a homogeneous material with a definite composition
  3. the essence, meaning, etc, of a written or spoken thought
  4. solid or meaningful quality
  5. material density

    a vacuum has no substance

  6. material possessions or wealth

    a man of substance

  7. philosophy
    1. the supposed immaterial substratum that can receive modifications and in which attributes and accidents inhere
    2. a thing considered as a continuing whole that survives the changeability of its properties
  8. Christian Science that which is eternal
  9. a euphemistic term for any illegal drug
  10. in substance
    with regard to the salient points

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Derived Forms

  • ˈsubstanceless, adjective

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Other Words From

  • substance·less adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of substance1

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; sub-, stand, -ia; -ance

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Word History and Origins

Origin of substance1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. in substance,
    1. concerning the essentials; substantially.
    2. actually; really:

      That is in substance how it appeared to me.

More idioms and phrases containing substance

see in substance ; sum and substance .

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Synonym Study

See matter.

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Example Sentences

A judge in that case has yet to rule on most of the substance of Amazon’s lawsuit.

From Fortune

This is a substance that can give a person immunity from a disease.

To keep a wormhole’s throat from collapsing, some substance with negative mass must prop it open.

We believe the substance and process for this important park planning policy needs more attention and significant changes.

These foreign invaders contain substances the body doesn’t recognize.

Scalise spoke briefly, adding little of substance, saying that the people back home know him best.

“Any time you put a foreign substance into anybody you have the potential for an adverse event,” Geisbert reminds.

Those with a slightly sleazier bent have dredged up reports of his weight gain, substance abuse, and arrest.

South Carolina and Alabama courts have already ruled late-pregnancy substance abuse can be considered a form of child abuse.

Things got even more serious when Cosby moved on to the subject of substance abuse and children.

In withdrawing aside sorrow remaineth: and the substance of the poor is according to his heart.

Its backbone should be the study of biology and its substance should be the threshing out of the burning questions of our day.

The nature both of this substance and the antecedent substance from which it is derived is not known.

But this paper was a very tough, fibrous substance, and would resist quite a heavy blow as well as keep out the cold.

There has always been a mystery connected with this remarkable substance.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




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