- The definition of substitute is someone or something used in place of another person or thing.
An example of substitute used as an adjective is a substitute teacher who comes in when a teacher is sick.
- Substitute is defined as a person or thing acting in place of something else.
An example of a substitute is a shirt offered at a store when the original shirt listed in a sale flyer has sold out.
- Substitute means to use something instead of the originally needed item or to have a person do something for another.
- An example of to substitute is to use applesauce instead of oil in a recipe.
- An example of to substitute is to have someone run for a hitter in a baseball game.
- a person or thing serving or used in place of another
- Gram. any word or word group, as a pronoun, the verb to do, etc., used in place of another word or words (Ex.: did for shouted in “she shouted and he did, too”)
Origin of substituteMiddle English ; from Classical Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere, to put instead of ; from sub-, under + statuere, to put, place: see statue
transitive verbsubstituted, substituting
- to put or use in place of another
- Now Rare to take the place of
- Chem. to replace as a substituent
- One that takes the place of another; a replacement: “Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality” (Barbara Grizzuti Harrison).
- Grammar A word or construction used in place of another word, phrase, or clause.
verbsub·sti·tut·ed, sub·sti·tut·ing, sub·sti·tutes
- To put or use (a person or thing) in place of another: “substituting moral power for physical force” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton).
- Chemistry To replace (one or more atoms or groups in a compound) by other atoms or groups.
Origin of substituteMiddle English, from Old French substitut, from Latin substitūtus, past participle of substituere, to substitute : sub-, in place of; see sub– + statuere, to cause to stand; see stā- in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present substitutes, present participle substituting, simple past and past participle substituted)
- To use in place of something else, with the same function.
- I had no shallots so I substituted onion.
- In the phrase "substitute X for Y", to use X in place of Y.
- I had to substitute new parts for the old ones.
- In the phrase "substitute X with/by Y", to use Y in place of X.
- I had to substitute old parts with the new ones.
- (sports) To remove (a player) from the field of play and bring on another in his place.
- He was playing poorly and was substituted after twenty minutes
- (intransitive) To serve as a replacement (for someone or something)
The verb "to substitute" can be used transitively in two opposite ways. "To substitute X" may mean either "use X in place of something else" (as in definitions 1 and 2), or "use something else in place of X" (as in definitions 3 and 4). The latter use is more recent, but it is widespread and now generally accepted (see the COED's note on the matter).
From Latin substitutum, past participle of substituo.