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mid-14c., "residential area outside a town or city," from Old French suburbe, from Latin suburbium "an outlying part of a city," from sub "below, near" (see sub-) + urbs (genitive urbis) "city." An Old English word for it was underburg. Close to crowds but just beyond the reach of municipal jurisdiction, suburbs in 17c., especially those of London, had a sense of "inferior, debased, and licentious habits or life" (e.g. suburban sinner, slang for "loose woman, prostitute"). By 1817, the tinge had shifted to "inferior manners and narrow views." Compare also French equivalent faubourg.
[T]he growth of the metropolis throws vast numbers of people into distant dormitories where ... life is carried on without the discipline of rural occupations and without the cultural resources that the Central District of the city still retains. [Lewis Mumford, 1922]