English substance definition
From Old French substance, from Latin substantia (“substance, essence”), from substāns, present active participle of substō (“exist”, literally “stand under”), from sub + stō (“stand”).
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈsʌbstəns/, [ˈsʌbstənts]
substance (countable and uncountable, plural substances)
- Physical matter; material.
- 1699, William Temple, Heads designed for an essay on conversations
- Study gives strength to the mind; conversation, grace: the first apt to give stiffness, the other suppleness: one gives substance and form to the statue, the other polishes it.
2013 July 20, “Welcome to the plastisphere”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845: Plastics are energy-rich substances, which is why many of them burn so readily. Any organism that could unlock and use that energy would do well in the Anthropocene. Terrestrial bacteria and fungi which can manage this trick are already familiar to experts in the field.
- Synonyms: matter, stuff
- The essential part of anything; the most vital part.
- Heroic virtue did his actions guide, / And he the substance, not the appearance, chose.
- 1684-1690, Thomas Burnet, Sacred Theory of the Earth
- This edition is the same in substance with the Latin.
- 1796, Edmund Burke, Letters on a Regicide Peace
- It is insolent in words, in manner; but in substance it is not only insulting, but alarming.
- Synonyms: crux, gist
The most essential part; the main
idea or substance (of a longer or more complicated matter); the crux
of a matter; the pith
. (1 of 3 gist definitions
- Substantiality; solidity; firmness.
Some textile fabrics have little substance.
- Material possessions; estate; property; resources.
a man of substance
- And there wasted his substance with riotous living.
c. 1594, William Shakespeare, “The Comedie of Errors”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene i]:
Thy substance, valued at the highest rate, / Cannot amount unto a hundred marks.
- 1712, Jonathan Swift, The Conduct of the Allies, and of the late Ministry, in beginning and carrying on the present War
- We are destroying many thousand lives, and exhausting our substance, but not for our own interest.
- A form of matter that has constant chemical composition and characteristic properties.
- Drugs (illegal narcotics)
- Synonyms: dope, gear
- (theology) Hypostasis.
physical matter; material — See also translations at matter
- Albanian: substancë (sq) f, lëndë (sq) f
- Arabic: مَادَّة (ar) f (mādda)
- Armenian: նյութ (hy) (nyutʿ)
- Asturian: sustancia f
- Azerbaijani: maddə (az)
- Bashkir: матдә (matdä)
- Belarusian: рэ́чыва (be) n (réčyva), субста́нцыя f (substáncyja) (literary)
- Bengali: পদার্থ (bn) (pôdarth)
- Bulgarian: вещество́ (bg) n (veštestvó), субста́нция (bg) f (substáncija) (literary)
- Burmese: ဒြပ် (my) (drap)
- Catalan: substància (ca) f
- Cantonese: 物質, 物质 (mat6 zat1)
- Mandarin: 物質 (zh), 物质 (zh) (wùzhì)
- Min Nan: 物質 (zh-min-nan), 物质 (bu̍t-chit)
- Wu: 物質, 物质 (veq tseq)
- Czech: látka (cs) f
- Danish: substans, masse (da)
- Dutch: substantie (nl) f
- Esperanto: substanco
- Estonian: aine (et)
- Finnish: aine (fi), materia (fi)
- French: substance (fr) f
- Galician: substancia (gl) f
- Georgian: ნივთიერება (nivtiereba)
- German: Substanz (de) f, Stoff (de) m
- Greek: ουσία (el) f (ousía)
- Ancient: οὐσία f (ousía), ὕλη f (húlē), ὑπόστασις f (hupóstasis)
- Hebrew: חומר \ חֹמֶר (he) m (khómer)
- Hindi: पदार्थ (hi) m (padārth), वस्तु (hi) f (vastu)
- Hungarian: anyag (hu), tartalom (hu)
- Icelandic: efni (is) n
- Irish: mianach m, damhna m
- Italian: sostanza (it) f
- Japanese: 物質 (ja) (busshitsu)
- Kazakh: зат (kk) (zat)
- Khmer: វត្ថុ (km) (vŏətthoʼ)
- Korean: 물질 (ko) (muljil) (物質 (ko))
- Northern Kurdish: made (ku)
substantiality; solidity; firmness
a form of matter with constant chemical composition and characteristic properties
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.
Translations to be checked
substance (third-person singular simple present substances, present participle substancing, simple past and past participle substanced)
- (rare, transitive) To give substance to; to make real or substantial.
1873, Adeline Dutton Train Whitney, The Other Girls, page 335:
If life were nothing but what gets phrased and substanced, the world might as well be rolled up and laid away again in darkness.
1982, Dhupaty V. K. Raghavacharyulu, The Song of the Red Rose and Other Poems, page 78:
The calm ruminating / Reverie, substancing / Intellect into emotion, / Is shelter enough for love / Unhumiliated by faith.
French substance definition
Borrowed from Latin substantia (“substance, essence”), from substāns, present active participle of substō (“exist”, literally “stand under”), from sub + stō (“stand”).
substance f (plural substances)
Old French substance definition
Borrowed from Latin substantia.
substance f (oblique plural substances, nominative singular substance, nominative plural substances)
- most essential; substantial part