[ suhb-stich-oo-uhnt ]
/ sʌbˈstɪtʃ u ənt /
Save This Word!

Chemistry. an atom or atomic group that takes the place of another atom or group present in the molecule of the original compound.
having been or capable of being substituted.
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of substituent

1890–95; <Latin substituent- (stem of substituēns), present participle of substituere to substitute, equivalent to sub-sub- + -stitu-, combining form of statuere to set up, erect (see statue) + -ent--ent
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does substituent mean?

Substituent is an adjective that can mean the same thing as substituted or substitutable (both of which are much more commonly used).

The word substitutable can mean capable of being used as a substitute, but it probably more often means capable of being replaced.

The related (and also uncommon) adjective substitutive is used to describe a thing capable of taking the place of or that has taken the place of another. (It can also be used to describe anything that involves such a substitution.)

Substituent is an adjective form of the word substitute, which can be used as both a verb (to replace something with another thing) or as a noun (something that replaces something else).

Substituent is more specifically and commonly used in the context of chemistry, in which it refers to an atom or group of atoms that replaces another atom or group of atoms in a molecule.

Example: The item you ordered is not substituent, so you will be issued a refund.

Where does substituent come from?

The first records of the word substituent come from the 1800s. It ultimately derives from the Latin verb substituere, meaning “to put in place of.”

Substituent is rarely used and can be confusing when it is. Even with context, it can be hard to tell whether it means “substituted” or “substitutable.” Those terms are more straightforward and much more commonly used.

In chemistry, a molecule is the smallest physical unit of an element or compound. In an element, a molecule consists of one or more of the same kind of atoms. In a compound, it consists of two or more different atoms. When some of these atoms or atom groups are replaced, the replacement atom or group is called a substituent. Such a chemical reaction is called a substitution reaction.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to substituent?

What are some synonyms for substituent?

  • substituted
  • substitutable

What are some words that share a root or word element with substituent

What are some words that often get used in discussing substituent?

How is substituent used in real life?

Substituent is rarely used outside of chemistry.



Try using substituent!

True or False? 

In chemistry, a substituent is the atom or atom group that gets replaced.

How to use substituent in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for substituent

/ (sʌbˈstɪtjʊənt) /

chem an atom or group that replaces another atom or group in a molecule or can be regarded as replacing an atom in a parent compound
substituted or substitutable

Word Origin for substituent

C19: from Latin substituere to substitute
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