[ suhb-sti-too-tiv, -tyoo- ]
/ ˈsʌb stɪˌtu tɪv, -ˌtyu- /
Save This Word!

serving as or capable of serving as a substitute.
pertaining to or involving substitution.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of substitutive

First recorded in 1590–1600; substitute + -ive

OTHER WORDS FROM substitutive

sub·sti·tu·tive·ly, adverbnon·sub·sti·tu·tive, adjectiveun·sub·sti·tu·tive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does substitutive mean?

Substitutive is an adjective that describes 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.

Substitutive 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).

The similar adjective substitutable can mean capable of being used as a substitute, but it probably more often means capable of being replaced. The adjective substituent can mean the same thing as substituted or substitutable.

Example: These safety measures are not meant to be substitutive—they’re being implemented in addition to the current plan.

Where does substitutive come from?

The first records of the word substitutive come from right around 1600. Its base word, substitute, ultimately comes from the Latin substitūtus, from the verb substituere, meaning “to put in place of.”

Substitutive can be used in a variety of contexts, but it’s not nearly as commonly used as the words substitute or substitution. When it is used, it’s often contrasted with things that are being added or taken away, as opposed to being replaced (substituted). Sometimes, substitutive is used to describe a thing that is already acting as a substitute. Other times, it’s meant to indicate that something is capable of acting as a substitute—not necessarily that it will be used as one.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to substitutive?

  • substitute (verb)
  • substitutively (adverb)
  • nonsubstitutive (adjective)
  • unsubstitutive (adjective)

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

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

How is substitutive used in real life?

Substitutive can be used in many different contexts, but it’s fairly uncommon.



Try using substitutive!

Which of the following terms is substitutive LEAST likely to be used in reference to?

A. fill-in
B. stand-in
C. alternate
D. original

How to use substitutive in a sentence

  • The substitutive measures here again are the only wise and effective ones.

    Training the Teacher|A. F. Schauffler
  • Mathematical symbols146 have, then, become substitutive signs.

    Creative Intelligence|John Dewey, Addison W. Moore, Harold Chapman Brown, George H. Mead, Boyd H. Bode, Henry Waldgrave, Stuart James, Hayden Tufts, Horace M. Kallen

British Dictionary definitions for substitutive

/ (ˈsʌbstɪˌtjuːtɪv) /

acting or able to act as a substitute
of or involving substitution

Derived forms of substitutive

substitutively, adverb
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