[ suhb-stuhn-tiv ]
See synonyms for substantive on
  1. a noun.

  2. a pronoun or other word or phrase functioning or inflected like a noun.

  1. Grammar.

    • pertaining to substantives.

    • used in a sentence like a noun: a substantive adjective.

    • expressing existence: “to be” is a substantive verb.

  2. having independent existence; independent.

  1. belonging to the real nature or essential part of a thing; essential.

  2. real or actual.

  3. of considerable amount or quantity.

  4. possessing substance; having practical importance, value, or effect: substantive issues under discussion.

  5. Law. pertaining to the rules of right which courts are called on to apply, as distinguished from rules of procedure (opposed to adjective def. 3).

  6. (of dye colors) attaching directly to the material without the aid of a mordant (opposed to adjective def. 4).

Origin of substantive

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Late Latin substantīvus, equivalent to Latin substant(ia) substance + -īvus -ive

Other words from substantive

  • sub·stan·tive·ly, adverb
  • sub·stan·tive·ness, noun
  • non·sub·stan·tive, adjective
  • non·sub·stan·tive·ness, noun
  • un·sub·stan·tive, adjective

Words Nearby substantive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use substantive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for substantive


/ (ˈsʌbstəntɪv) /

  1. grammar a noun or pronoun used in place of a noun

  1. of, relating to, containing, or being the essential element of a thing

  2. having independent function, resources, or existence

  1. of substantial quantity

  2. solid in foundation or basis

  3. grammar denoting, relating to, or standing in place of a noun

  4. (səbˈstæntɪv) relating to the essential legal principles administered by the courts, as opposed to practice and procedure: Compare adjective (def. 3)

  5. (səbˈstæntɪv) (of a dye or colour) staining the material directly without use of a mordant

Origin of substantive

C15: from Late Latin substantīvus, from Latin substāre to stand beneath; see substance
  • Abbreviation: s, sb, subst

Derived forms of substantive

  • substantival (ˌsʌbstənˈtaɪvəl), adjective
  • substantivally, adverb
  • substantively, adverb
  • substantiveness, 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