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substance Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun the real physical matter of which a person or thing consists
    • DNA is the substance of our genes
  2. noun the choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience
    kernel; center; centre; nitty-gritty; essence; sum; meat; heart; pith; nub; heart and soul; core; inwardness; marrow; gist.
    • the gist of the prosecutor's argument
    • the heart and soul of the Republican Party
    • the nub of the story
  3. noun the idea that is intended
    meaning.
    • What is the meaning of this proverb?
  4. noun material of a particular kind or constitution
    • the immune response recognizes invading substances
  5. noun considerable capital (wealth or income)
    means.
    • he is a man of means
  6. noun what a communication that is about something is about
    content; message; subject matter.
  7. noun a particular kind or species of matter with uniform properties
    • shigella is one of the most toxic substances known to man
WordNet

Sub"stance noun
Etymology
F., fr. L. substantia, fr. substare to be under or present, to stand firm; sub under + stare to stand. See Stand.
Definitions
  1. That which underlies all outward manifestations; substratum; the permanent subject or cause of phenomena, whether material or spiritual; that in which properties inhere; that which is real, in distinction from that which is apparent; the abiding part of any existence, in distinction from any accident; that which constitutes anything what it is; real or existing essence.
    These cooks, how they stamp, and strain, and grind, And turn substance into accident! Chaucer.
    Heroic virtue did his actions guide, And he the substance, not the appearance, chose. Dryden.
  2. The most important element in any existence; the characteristic and essential components of anything; the main part; essential import; purport.
    This edition is the same in substance with the Latin. Bp. Burnet.
    It is insolent in words, in manner; but in substance it is not only insulting, but alarming. Burke.
  3. Body; matter; material of which a thing is made; hence, substantiality; solidity; firmness; as, the substance of which a garment is made; some textile fabrics have little substance.
  4. Material possessions; estate; property; resources.
    And there wasted his substance with riotous living. Luke xv. 13.
    Thy substance, valued at the highest rate, Can not amount unto a hundred marks. Shak.
    We are destroying many thousand lives, and exhausting our substance, but not for our own interest. Swift.
  5. (Theol.) Same as Hypostasis, 2.
Sub"stance transitive verb
Definitions
  1. To furnish or endow with substance; to supply property to; to make rich. Obs.

Webster 1913