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[suhb-sti-toot, -tyoot] /ˈsʌb stɪˌtut, -ˌtyut/
a person or thing acting or serving in place of another.
(formerly) a person who, for payment, served in an army or navy in the place of a conscript.
Grammar. a word that functions as a replacement for any member of a class of words or constructions, as do in He doesn't know but I do.
verb (used with object), substituted, substituting.
to put (a person or thing) in the place of another.
to take the place of; replace.
Chemistry. to replace (one or more elements or groups in a compound) by other elements or groups.
verb (used without object), substituted, substituting.
to act as a substitute.
of or relating to a substitute or substitutes.
composed of substitutes.
Origin of substitute
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin substitūtus (past participle of substituere to put in place of), equivalent to sub- sub- + -stitū-, combining form of statū-, past participle stem of statuere (see substituent) + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
substitutable, adjective
substitutability, noun
substituter, noun
substitutingly, adverb
substitution, noun
substitutional, substitutionary
[suhb-sti-too-shuh-ner-ee, -tyoo-] /ˌsʌb stɪˈtu ʃəˌnɛr i, -ˈtyu-/ (Show IPA),
substitutionally, adverb
intersubstitutability, noun
intersubstitutable, adjective
intersubstitution, noun
nonsubstituted, adjective
nonsubstitution, noun
nonsubstitutional, adjective
nonsubstitutionally, adverb
nonsubstitutionary, adjective
presubstitute, verb (used with object), presubstituted, presubstituting.
presubstitution, noun
prosubstitution, adjective
unsubstituted, adjective
1. alternative, replacement, equivalent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for substitution
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Similar anomalous growths are noticed under the heads of substitution and Prolification.

    Vegetable Teratology Maxwell T. Masters
  • The humorist accepted the substitution as an additional absurdity.

    The Booklover and His Books Harry Lyman Koopman
  • Your husband, I don't know how, knows of the substitution of one ring for the other.

  • He writes Arcadia for Euphues but the substitution is legitimate.

    John Lyly John Dover Wilson
  • The only question is whether they will come as supplementary to or in substitution for the League.

    The New Germany George Young
  • The substitution of a comma for another point, or for a letter put in by mistake.

    "Stops" Paul Allardyce
British Dictionary definitions for substitution


the act of substituting or state of being substituted
something or someone substituted
(maths) the replacement of a term of an equation by another that is known to have the same value in order to simplify the equation
(maths, logic)
  1. the uniform replacement of one expression by another
  2. substitution instance, an expression so derived from another


(often foll by for) to serve or cause to serve in place of another person or thing
(chem) to replace (an atom or group in a molecule) with (another atom or group)
(logic, maths) to replace (one expression) by (another) in the context of a third, as replacing x + y for x in 3x = k gives 3x + 3y = k
  1. a person or thing that serves in place of another, such as a player in a game who takes the place of an injured colleague
  2. (as modifier): a substitute goalkeeper Often shortened to sub
(grammar) another name for pro-form
(Canadian) another name for supply teacher
(nautical) another word for repeater (sense 5)
(formerly) a person paid to replace another due for military service
Derived Forms
substitutable, adjective
substitutability, noun
Usage note
Substitute is sometimes wrongly used where replace is meant: he replaced (not substituted) the worn tyre with a new one
Word Origin
C16: from Latin substituere, from sub- in place of + statuere to set up
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
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Word Origin and History for substitution

late 14c., "appointment of a subordinate or successor," from Middle French substitution, from Late Latin substitutionem (nominative substitutio) "a putting in place of another," from past participle stem of Latin substituere "put in place of another, place under or next to," from sub "under" (see sub-) + statuere "set up," from PIE root *sta- "to stand," with derivatives meaning "place or thing that is standing" (see stet).



early 15c. in transitive sense, 1888 as intransitive, from Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere (see substitution). Related: Substituted; substituting.


"one who acts in place of another," early 15c., from Old French substitute and directly from Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere (see substitution). Team sports sense is from 1849.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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substitution in Medicine

substitution sub·sti·tu·tion (sŭb'stĭ-tōō'shən, -tyōō'-)

  1. The replacement of an atom or group of atoms in a compound by another atom or group of atoms.

  2. An unconscious defense mechanism by which the unacceptable or unattainable is replaced by something more acceptable or attainable.

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