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 Dictionary entry overview: What does substance mean? 

  The noun SUBSTANCE has 6 senses:

1. that which has mass and occupies space
2. the stuff of which an object consists
3. the choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience
4. the idea that is intended
5. considerable capital (wealth or income)
6. what a communication that is about something is about

  Familiarity information: SUBSTANCE used as a noun is common.

 Dictionary entry details 


Sense 1substance [BACK TO TOP]


That which has mass and occupies space

Classified under:

Nouns with no superordinates


matter; substance

Context example:

an atom is the smallest indivisible unit of matter

Hypernyms ("substance" is a kind of...):

physical entity (an entity that has physical existence)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "substance"):

vehicle (a substance that facilitates the use of a drug or pigment or other material that is mixed with it)

goo; gook; guck; gunk; muck; ooze; slime; sludge (any thick messy substance)

fluid (a substance that is fluid at room temperature and pressure)

fluid (a continuous amorphous substance that tends to flow and to conform to the outline of its container: a liquid or a gas)

leaven; leavening (a substance used to produce fermentation in dough or a liquid)

jelly (a substance having the consistency of semisolid foods)

inoculant; inoculum (a substance (a virus or toxin or immune serum) that is introduced into the body to produce or increase immunity to a particular disease)

humectant (any substance that is added to another substance to keep it moist)

medium ((biology) a substance in which specimens are preserved or displayed)

culture medium; medium ((bacteriology) a nutrient substance (solid or liquid) that is used to cultivate micro-organisms)

medium (an intervening substance through which something is achieved)

fuel (a substance that can be consumed to produce energy)

foamentation (a substance used as a warm moist medicinal compress or poultice)

element (one of four substances thought in ancient and medieval cosmology to constitute the physical universe)

digestive (any substance that promotes digestion)

system ((physical chemistry) a sample of matter in which substances in different phases are in equilibrium)

refrigerant (a substance used to provide cooling (as in a refrigerator))

vegetable matter (matter produced by plants or growing in the manner of a plant)

metabolite (any substance involved in metabolism (either as a product of metabolism or as necessary for metabolism))

ligand (an atom or molecule or radical or ion that forms a complex around a central atom)

essence (any substance possessing to a high degree the predominant properties of a plant or drug or other natural product from which it is extracted)

emanation (something that is emitted or radiated (as a gas or an odor or a light etc.))

volatile (a volatile substance; a substance that changes readily from solid or liquid to a vapor)

solvate (a compound formed by solvation (the combination of solvent molecules with molecules or ions of the solute))

solute (the dissolved substance in a solution; the component of a solution that changes its state)

solid (a substance that is solid at room temperature and pressure)

antigen (any substance (as a toxin or enzyme) that stimulates an immune response in the body (especially the production of antibodies))

chemical irritant (a substance producing irritation)

poison; poisonous substance; toxicant (any substance that causes injury or illness or death of a living organism)

lysin (any substance (such as an antibody) or agent that can cause lysis)

residue (matter that remains after something has been removed)

chemical compound; compound ((chemistry) a substance formed by chemical union of two or more elements or ingredients in definite proportion by weight)

carcinogen (any substance that produces cancer)

elixir; philosopher's stone; philosophers' stone (a hypothetical substance that the alchemists believed to be capable of changing base metals into gold)

micronutrient (a substance needed only in small amounts for normal body function (e.g., vitamins or minerals))

antimatter (matter consisting of elementary particles that are the antiparticles of those making up normal matter)

dark matter ((cosmology) a hypothetical form of matter that is believed to make up 90 percent of the matter in the universe; it is invisible (does not absorb or emit light) and does not collide with atomic particles but exerts gravitational force)

ylem ((cosmology) the original matter that (according to the big bang theory) existed before the formation of the chemical elements)

material; stuff (the tangible substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object)

deposit; sediment (matter that has been deposited by some natural process)

grinding (matter resulting from the process of grinding)

drift (something that is heaped up by the wind or by water currents)

living substance; protoplasm (the substance of a living cell (including cytoplasm and nucleus))

body substance (the substance of the body)

bedding; bedding material; litter (material used to provide a bed for animals)

ballast (any heavy material used to stabilize a ship or airship)

food; nutrient (any substance that can be metabolized by an organism to give energy and build tissue)

precursor (a substance from which another substance is formed (especially by a metabolic reaction))

phlogiston (a hypothetical substance once believed to be present in all combustible materials and to be released during burning)

allergen (any substance that can cause an allergy)

substrate (the substance that is acted upon by an enzyme or ferment)

ferment (a substance capable of bringing about fermentation)

inhibitor (a substance that retards or stops an activity)

activator ((biology) any agency bringing about activation; a molecule that increases the activity of an enzyme or a protein that increases the production of a gene product in DNA transcription)

denaturant (any substance that serves as a denaturing agent)

propellant; propellent (something that propels)

chemical element; element (any of the more than 100 known substances (of which 92 occur naturally) that cannot be separated into simpler substances and that singly or in combination constitute all matter)

atom ((physics and chemistry) the smallest component of an element having the chemical properties of the element)

assay (a substance that is undergoing an analysis of its components)

pyrectic; pyrogen (any substance that can cause a rise in body temperature)

pyrogen (any substance characterized by its great flammability)

mixture ((chemistry) a substance consisting of two or more substances mixed together (not in fixed proportions and not with chemical bonding))

hydrocolloid (a substance that forms a gel with water)

adulterant; adulterator (any substance that adulterates (lessens the purity or effectiveness of a substance))

Sense 2substance [BACK TO TOP]


The stuff of which an object consists

Classified under:

Nouns denoting relations between people or things or ideas

Hypernyms ("substance" is a kind of...):

component; component part; part; portion (something determined in relation to something that includes it)

Sense 3substance [BACK TO TOP]


The choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience

Classified under:

Nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents


nitty-gritty; inwardness; heart and soul; essence; gist; pith; nub; substance; meat; kernel; core; sum; marrow; heart; center

Context examples:

the gist of the prosecutor's argument / the heart and soul of the Republican Party / the nub of the story

Hypernyms ("substance" is a kind of...):

cognitive content; content; mental object (the sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "substance"):

stuff (a critically important or characteristic component)

quintessence (the purest and most concentrated essence of something)

haecceity; quiddity (the essence that makes something the kind of thing it is and makes it different from any other)

hypostasis ((metaphysics) essential nature or underlying reality)

bare bones ((plural) the most basic facts or elements)

Sense 4substance [BACK TO TOP]


The idea that is intended

Classified under:

Nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents


meaning; substance

Context example:

What is the meaning of this proverb?

Hypernyms ("substance" is a kind of...):

idea; thought (the content of cognition; the main thing you are thinking about)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "substance"):

connotation (an idea that is implied or suggested)

reference (the relation between a word or phrase and the object or idea it refers to)

denotation; extension; reference (the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression; the class of objects that an expression refers to)

undercurrent; undertone (a subdued emotional quality underlying an utterance; implicit meaning)

strain; tenor (the general meaning or substance of an utterance)

implication; import; significance (a meaning that is not expressly stated but can be inferred)

Sense 5substance [BACK TO TOP]


Considerable capital (wealth or income)

Classified under:

Nouns denoting possession and transfer of possession


means; substance

Context example:

he is a man of means

Hypernyms ("substance" is a kind of...):

capital (wealth in the form of money or property owned by a person or business and human resources of economic value)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "substance"):

pocketbook (your personal financial means)

wherewithal (the necessary means (especially financial means))

Sense 6substance [BACK TO TOP]


What a communication that is about something is about

Classified under:

Nouns denoting communicative processes and contents


subject matter; message; content; substance

Hypernyms ("substance" is a kind of...):

communication (something that is communicated by or to or between people or groups)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "substance"):

respects ((often used with 'pay') a formal expression of esteem)

discourtesy; disrespect (an expression of lack of respect)

insertion; interpolation (a message (spoken or written) that is introduced or inserted)

statement (a message that is stated or declared; a communication (oral or written) setting forth particulars or facts etc)

statement (a nonverbal message)

humor; humour; wit; witticism; wittiness (a message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter)

opinion; view (a message expressing a belief about something; the expression of a belief that is held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof)

direction; instruction (a message describing how something is to be done)

proposal (something proposed (such as a plan or assumption))

offer; offering (something offered (as a proposal or bid))

entry; submission (something (manuscripts or architectural plans and models or estimates or works of art of all genres etc.) submitted for the judgment of others (as in a competition))

narration; narrative; story; tale (a message that tells the particulars of an act or occurrence or course of events; presented in writing or drama or cinema or as a radio or television program)

packaging; promotion; promotional material; publicity (a message issued in behalf of some product or cause or idea or person or institution)

sensationalism (subject matter that is calculated to excite and please vulgar tastes)

shocker (a sensational message (in a film or play or novel))

disapproval (the expression of disapproval)

approval; commendation (a message expressing a favorable opinion)

commitment; dedication (a message that makes a pledge)

body (the central message of a communication)

corker ((dated slang) a remarkable or excellent thing or person)

reminder (a message that helps you remember something)

petition; postulation; request (a formal message requesting something that is submitted to an authority)

memorial (a written statement of facts submitted in conjunction with a petition to an authority)

latent content ((psychoanalysis) hidden meaning of a fantasy or dream)

subject; theme; topic (the subject matter of a conversation or discussion)

aside; digression; divagation; excursus; parenthesis (a message that departs from the main subject)

import; meaning; significance; signification (the message that is intended or expressed or signified)

bunk; hokum; meaninglessness; nonsense; nonsensicality (a message that seems to convey no meaning)

drivel; garbage (a worthless message)

acknowledgement; acknowledgment (a statement acknowledging something or someone)

refusal (a message refusing to accept something that is offered)

info; information (a message received and understood)

counsel; counseling; counselling; direction; guidance (something that provides direction or advice as to a decision or course of action)

 Learn English with... Proverbs of the week 
"Don't use your hairdryer in the shower, you prat" (English proverb)

"My son, too old is the Earth don't make fun of it" (Breton proverb)

"The bride doesn't know how to dance, she says the floor is slanted." (Armenian proverb)

"That which is written in Heaven, comes to pass on Earth." (Corsican proverb)

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