Origin of substitute

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin substitūtus (past participle of substituere to put in place of), equivalent to sub- sub- + -stitū-, combining form of statū-, past participle stem of statuere (see substituent) + -tus past participle suffix
Related formssub·sti·tut·a·ble, adjectivesub·sti·tut·a·bil·i·ty, nounsub·sti·tut·er, nounsub·sti·tut·ing·ly, adverbsub·sti·tu·tion, nounsub·sti·tu·tion·al, sub·sti·tu·tion·ar·y [suhb-sti-too-shuh-ner-ee, -tyoo-] /ˌsʌb stɪˈtu ʃəˌnɛr i, -ˈtyu-/, adjectivesub·sti·tu·tion·al·ly, adverbin·ter·sub·sti·tut·a·bil·i·ty, nounin·ter·sub·sti·tut·a·ble, adjectivein·ter·sub·sti·tu·tion, nounnon·sub·sti·tut·ed, adjectivenon·sub·sti·tu·tion, nounnon·sub·sti·tu·tion·al, adjectivenon·sub·sti·tu·tion·al·ly, adverbnon·sub·sti·tu·tion·ar·y, adjectivepre·sub·sti·tute, verb (used with object), pre·sub·sti·tut·ed, pre·sub·sti·tut·ing.pre·sub·sti·tu·tion, nounpro·sub·sti·tu·tion, adjectiveun·sub·sti·tut·ed, adjective

Synonyms for substitute

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for substitution

trade, swap, change, exchange

Examples from the Web for substitution

Contemporary Examples of substitution

Historical Examples of substitution

British Dictionary definitions for substitution



the act of substituting or state of being substituted
something or someone substituted
maths the replacement of a term of an equation by another that is known to have the same value in order to simplify the equation
maths logic
  1. the uniform replacement of one expression by another
  2. substitution instancean expression so derived from another



(often foll by for) to serve or cause to serve in place of another person or thing
chem to replace (an atom or group in a molecule) with (another atom or group)
logic maths to replace (one expression) by (another) in the context of a third, as replacing x + y for x in 3 x = k gives 3 x + 3 y = k


  1. a person or thing that serves in place of another, such as a player in a game who takes the place of an injured colleague
  2. (as modifier)a substitute goalkeeper Often shortened to: sub
grammar another name for pro-form
Canadian another name for supply teacher
nautical another word for repeater (def. 5)
(formerly) a person paid to replace another due for military service
Derived Formssubstitutable, adjectivesubstitutability, noun

Word Origin for substitute

C16: from Latin substituere, from sub- in place of + statuere to set up


Substitute is sometimes wrongly used where replace is meant: he replaced (not substituted) the worn tyre with a new one
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 substitution

late 14c., "appointment of a subordinate or successor," from Middle French substitution, from Late Latin substitutionem (nominative substitutio) "a putting in place of another," from past participle stem of Latin substituere "put in place of another, place under or next to," from sub "under" (see sub-) + statuere "set up," from PIE root *sta- "to stand," with derivatives meaning "place or thing that is standing" (see stet).



early 15c. in transitive sense, 1888 as intransitive, from Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere (see substitution). Related: Substituted; substituting.



"one who acts in place of another," early 15c., from Old French substitute and directly from Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere (see substitution). Team sports sense is from 1849.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

substitution in Medicine




The replacement of an atom or group of atoms in a compound by another atom or group of atoms.
An unconscious defense mechanism by which the unacceptable or unattainable is replaced by something more acceptable or attainable.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.