substance

Definitions

General English

General Science

Law

  • noun a drug, solvent, gas or other material on which someone can become dependent or which can cause harm
  • noun the real basis of a report or argument

Medical

  • noun a chemical material, e.g. a drug

Publishing

  • noun the weight of paper, as shown by the grammage or, in the USA, as pounds per 500 sheets

Slang

  • noun cannabis, hashish or marihuana. A euphemism adopted by users of the drug from the legalistic description (employed particularly in sentences such as ‘Certain substances were taken away for analysis.’).

Origin & History of “substance”

Latin substantia denoted the ‘essence’ of something. Derived from the present participle of substāre ‘be present’, a compound verb formed from the prefix sub- ‘under’ and stāre ‘stand’ (a relative of English stand), it was virtually a loan-translation of Greek hupóstasis ‘substance, existence, essence’, which likewise was formed from elements meaning literally ‘under’ and ‘stand’. The word’s ultimate etymological meaning is thus ‘that which underlies or is the essence of something’.
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