Did you know?

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

substitute - 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.

verb substitute pronunciation in British English /ˈsʌbstɪˌtjuːt/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlesubstituting
past tensesubstituted
past participlesubstituted
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [transitive] to use something new or different instead of what is normally used
    substitute something for something:

    You can substitute chicken for beef if you don’t like red meat.

    The objective is to substitute real democratic politics for conflict and violence.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to remove one thing and put something else in its place

    She suggested that we take out the worddemand’ and substitute ‘request’.

    substitute something for something:

    Police investigators substituted Palmer’s bag for a similar one, then followed him to his hideout.

    substitute something with something:

    Owing to the high insurance costs, the original painting has been substituted with a copy.

    1. a.
      [often passive] to replace a member of a sports team with another player during a game

      He limped off with an injured ankle and was substituted by Tucker.

  3. 3
    [intransitive] to do someone else’s job for a short period of time
    substitute for:

    Mark will substitute for me tomorrow.

derived word



to fall over forwards so that your face hits the ground or another surface

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


the activity of exploring abandoned buildings and other manmade structures

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
Macmillan learn live love play