[ suhb-sti-toot, -tyoot ]
See synonyms for: substitutesubstitutedsubstitutes on

  1. a person or thing acting or serving in place of another.

  2. (formerly) a person who, for payment, served in an army or navy in the place of a conscript.

  1. Grammar. a word that functions as a replacement for any member of a class of words or constructions, as do in He doesn't know but I do.

verb (used with object),sub·sti·tut·ed, sub·sti·tut·ing.
  1. to put (a person or thing) in the place of another.

  2. to take the place of; replace.

  1. Chemistry. to replace (one or more elements or groups in a compound) by other elements or groups.

verb (used without object),sub·sti·tut·ed, sub·sti·tut·ing.
  1. to act as a substitute.

  1. of or relating to a substitute or substitutes.

  2. composed of substitutes.

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

Other words for substitute

Other words from substitute

  • sub·sti·tut·a·ble, adjective
  • sub·sti·tut·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • sub·sti·tut·er, noun
  • sub·sti·tut·ing·ly, adverb
  • sub·sti·tu·tion, noun
  • sub·sti·tu·tion·al, sub·sti·tu·tion·ar·y [suhb-sti-too-shuh-ner-ee, -tyoo-], /ˌsʌb stɪˈtu ʃəˌnɛr i, -ˈtyu-/, adjective
  • sub·sti·tu·tion·al·ly, adverb
  • in·ter·sub·sti·tut·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • in·ter·sub·sti·tut·a·ble, adjective
  • in·ter·sub·sti·tu·tion, noun
  • non·sub·sti·tut·ed, adjective
  • non·sub·sti·tu·tion, noun
  • non·sub·sti·tu·tion·al, adjective
  • non·sub·sti·tu·tion·al·ly, adverb
  • non·sub·sti·tu·tion·ar·y, adjective
  • pre·sub·sti·tute, verb (used with object), pre·sub·sti·tut·ed, pre·sub·sti·tut·ing.
  • pre·sub·sti·tu·tion, noun
  • pro·sub·sti·tu·tion, adjective
  • un·sub·sti·tut·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use substitute in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for substitute


/ (ˈsʌbstɪˌtjuːt) /

  1. (often foll by for) to serve or cause to serve in place of another person or thing

  2. chem to replace (an atom or group in a molecule) with (another atom or group)

  1. 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

    • 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

    • (as modifier): a substitute goalkeeper Often shortened to: sub

  1. grammar another name for pro-form

  1. Canadian another name for supply teacher

  2. nautical another word for repeater (def. 5)

  3. (formerly) a person paid to replace another due for military service

Origin of substitute

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

usage For substitute

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

Derived forms of substitute

  • substitutable, adjective
  • substitutability, 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