[ suhb-strey-tuhm, -strat-uhm, suhb-strey-tuhm, -strat-uhm ]
See synonyms for substratum on
noun,plural sub·stra·ta [suhb-strey-tuh, -strat-uh, -suhb-strey-tuh, -strat-uh], /ˈsʌbˌstreɪ tə, -ˌstræt ə, -sʌbˈstreɪ tə, -ˈstræt ə/, sub·stra·tums.
  1. something that is spread or laid under something else; a stratum or layer lying under another.

  2. something that underlies or serves as a basis or foundation.

  1. Agriculture. the subsoil.

  2. Biology. the base or material on which a nonmotile organism lives or grows.

  3. Philosophy. substance, considered as that which supports accidents or attributes.

  4. Photography. a layer of material placed directly on a film or plate as a foundation for the sensitive emulsion.

  5. Historical Linguistics. a set of features of a language traceable to the influence of an earlier language that it has replaced, especially among a subjugated population: The French word for 80, quatre-vingts (“four twenties”), may reflect a Celtic substratum.

Origin of substratum

From New Latin, dating back to 1625–35; see origin at sub-, stratum

Other words from substratum

  • sub·stra·tive, sub·stra·tal, adjective

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

How to use substratum in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for substratum


/ (sʌbˈstrɑːtəm, -ˈstreɪ-) /

nounplural -strata (-ˈstrɑːtə, -ˈstreɪtə)
  1. any layer or stratum lying underneath another

  2. a basis or foundation; groundwork

  1. the nonliving material on which an animal or plant grows or lives

  2. geology

    • the solid rock underlying soils, gravels, etc; bedrock

    • the surface to which a fixed organism is attached

  3. sociol any of several subdivisions or grades within a stratum

  4. photog a binding layer by which an emulsion is made to adhere to a glass or film base: Sometimes shortened to: sub

  5. philosophy substance considered as that in which attributes and accidents inhere

  6. linguistics the language of an indigenous population when replaced by the language of a conquering or colonizing population, esp as it influences the form of the dominant language or of any mixed languages arising from their contact: Compare superstratum (def. 2)

Origin of substratum

C17: from New Latin, from Latin substrātus strewn beneath, from substernere to spread under, from sub- + sternere to spread

Derived forms of substratum

  • substrative or substratal, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for substratum


[ sŭbstrā′təm, -străt′əm ]

Plural substrata substratums
  1. An underlying layer or stratum.

  2. A surface on which an organism grows or is attached; a substrate.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.