• Substance

    Pronunciation

    • US IPA: /ˈsʌbstəns/

    Alternative forms

    Origin

    From Old French substance, from Latin substantia ("substance, essence"), from substāns, present active participle of substō ("exist; literally, stand under"), from sub + stō ("stand").

    Full definition of substance

    Noun

    substance

    (plural substances)
    1. Physical matter; material.
      • 1699, William Temple, Heads designed for an essay on conversationsStudy 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.
      • 2013-07-20, Welcome to the plastisphere, 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.
    2. The essential part of anything; the most vital part.
      • John Dryden (1631-1700)Heroic virtue did his actions guide,
        And he the substance, not the appearance, chose.
      • Bishop BurnetThis edition is the same in substance with the Latin.
      • Edmund Burke (1729-1797)It is insolent in words, in manner; but in substance it is not only insulting, but alarming.
    3. Substantiality; solidity; firmness.
      Some textile fabrics have little substance.
    4. Material possessions; estate; property; resources.
      a man of substance
      • Bible, Luke xv. 13And there wasted his substance with riotous living.
      • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)Thy substance, valued at the highest rate,
        Cannot amount unto a hundred marks.
      • Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)We are destroying many thousand lives, and exhausting our substance, but not for our own interest.
    5. Drugs (illegal narcotics)
      substance abuse
    6. (theology) Hypostasis.
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