Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

substance - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun substance pronunciation in American English /ˈsʌbstəns/
Word Forms
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [countable] a particular type of liquid, solid, or gas
    The wood is coated with a special substance that protects it from the sun.
    a hazardous/harmful/radioactive substance: Some workers had developed cancer after exposure to radioactive substances.
  2. 2
    a drug that people can start to depend on, especially an illegal drug
    Heroin is an addictive substance.
    The campus is a substance-free environment.
  3. 3
    [uncountable] the quality of being important, real, or useful, or something that shows this quality
    Her comments added substance to the debate.
    The band is all glitz and no substance.
    of substance: The agency hasn’t accomplished anything of substance for years.
  4. 4
    [uncountable] the most important ideas or basic meaning of a discussion or a piece of writing
    He refused to discuss the substance of the meetings.
  5. 5
    [uncountable] [usually in negatives or questions] the fact that something is based on accurate information
    substance to: There is no substance to his accusations.
    give substance to something (=show that something is true): Their appearance together gave substance to the rumors of their imminent marriage.
    Synonyms and related words



a fashion trend in which people intentionally wear ordinary, inexpensive, widely-available clothing

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a flower or small bunch of flowers worn on the lapel of a jacket on special occasions

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog