that of which a thing consists; physical matter or material: form and substance.
a species of matter of definite chemical composition: a chalky substance.
the subject matter of thought, discourse, study, etc.
the actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality.
substantial or solid character or quality: claims lacking in substance.
consistency; body: soup without much substance.
the meaning or gist, as of speech or writing.
something that has separate or independent existence.
something that exists by itself and in which accidents or attributes inhere; that which receives modifications and is not itself a mode; something that is causally active; something that is more than an event.
the essential part of a thing; essence.
a thing considered as a continuing whole.
possessions, means, or wealth: to squander one's substance.
Linguistics. the articulatory or acoustic reality or the perceptual manifestation of a word or other construction (distinguished from form ).
a standard of weights for paper.
in substance,
concerning the essentials; substantially.
actually; really: That is in substance how it appeared to me.

1250–1300; Middle English < Latin substantia substance, essence (literally, that which stands under, i.e., underlies), equivalent to sub- sub- + -stant- (stem of stāns, present participle of stāre to stand) + -ia -ia (see -ance)

substanceless, adjective

4. theme, subject. 4, 5, 8. essence. 8. significance, import, pith.

1. See matter. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
substance (ˈsʌbstəns)
1.  the tangible matter of which a thing consists
2.  a specific type of matter, esp a homogeneous material with a definite composition
3.  the essence, meaning, etc, of a written or spoken thought
4.  solid or meaningful quality
5.  material density: a vacuum has no substance
6.  material possessions or wealth: a man of substance
7.  philosophy
 a.  the supposed immaterial substratum that can receive modifications and in which attributes and accidents inhere
 b.  a thing considered as a continuing whole that survives the changeability of its properties
8.  Christian Science that which is eternal
9.  a euphemistic term for any illegal drug
10.  in substance with regard to the salient points
[C13: via Old French from Latin substantia, from substāre, from sub- + stāre to stand]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, "essential nature," from O.Fr. substance (12c.), from L. substantia "being, essence, material," from substans, prp. of substare "stand firm, be under or present," from sub "up to, under" + stare "to stand," from PIE base *sta- "to stand" (see stet). A loan-translation
of Gk. hypostasis. Sense of "the matter of a study, discourse, etc." first recorded late 14c. Meaning "any kind of corporeal matter" also is first attested late 14c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

substance sub·stance (sŭb'stəns)

  1. That which has mass and occupies space; matter.

  2. A material of a particular kind or constitution.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see in substance; sum and substance.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The poor dean and other administrators would be overwhelmed by form regardless
  of substance.
While gaining its moral weight, its content seems to have deteriorated: the
  form lost its substance.
The salient characteristic of some forms of communication is how little of any
  substance is being communicated, and how poorly.
Your letter must be long enough to contain real substance but not so long that
  it becomes irritating.
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