AskDefine | Define substitute

Dictionary Definition

substitute adj
1 being a replacement or substitute for a regular member of a team [syn: second-string, substitute(a)]
2 capable of substituting in any of several positions on a team; "a utility infielder" [syn: utility(a), substitute(a)]
3 artificial and inferior; "ersatz coffee"; "substitute coffee" [syn: ersatz]


1 a person or thing that takes or can take the place of another [syn: replacement]
2 an athlete who plays only when another member of the team drops out [syn: reserve]
3 someone who takes the place of another (as when things get dangerous or difficult); "the star had a stand-in for dangerous scenes"; "we need extra employees for summer fill-ins" [syn: stand-in, relief, reliever, backup, backup man, fill-in]


1 put in the place of another; switch seemingly equivalent items; "the con artist replaced the original with a fake Rembrandt"; "substitute regular milk with fat-free milk" [syn: replace]
2 be a substitute; "The young teacher had to substitute for the sick colleague"; "The skim milk substitutes for cream--we are on a strict diet" [syn: sub, stand in, fill in]
3 act as a substitute; "She stood in for the soprano who suffered from a cold" [syn: deputize, deputise, step in]

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. To use in place of something else, with the same function.
    I had no shallots so I substituted onion.
  2. In the context of "transitive": In the phrase "substitute X for Y", to use X in place of Y.
    I had to substitute new parts for the old ones.
  3. In the context of "transitive": 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.
  4. In the context of "transitive|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
  5. To serve as a replacement (for someone or something)
    • 1987, James Tobin, Essays in Economics, Vol. 2, p. 75
      Accumulation of wealth by this route may substitute for personal saving.

Usage notes

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 has been considered incorrect by some, but it is widespread and now generally accepted (see COED note).



  1. A replacement or stand-in for something that achieves a similar result or purpose.
  2. In the context of "sports": A player who is available to replace another if the need arises, and who may or may not actually do so.


Extensive Definition

Substitute may mean:
In sport:
A person who replaces an exiting competitor during the course of a game, as permitted by the laws of the game. Such replacements are generally made for tactical reasons, or when a player becomes tired or injured.
Other uses:
substitute in Norwegian: Substitutt

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

additional, advocate, agent, alter ego, alternate, alternative, amicus curiae, analogy, another, attorney, backup, backup man, bit player, champion, change, change for, changeling, commute, comparison, compound for, copy, counterfeit, delegate, deputy, dernier ressort, displace, double, double for, dub in, dummy, equal, equivalent, ersatz, exchange, executive officer, expediency, expedient, exponent, extra, fake, false, father figure, father image, figurant, figurante, figurehead, fill-in, ghost, ghostwriter, give place to, imitation, lieutenant, locum, locum tenens, make do with, make way for, makeshift, metaphor, metonymy, mock, mother figure, mother surrogate, mute, next best thing, offer in exchange, other, paranymph, personnel, phony, pinch, pinch hitter, pinch-hit for, pleader, procurator, provisional, proxy, put up with, recourse, redeem, refuge, relay, relief, relieve, replace, replacement, representative, reserve, reserves, resort, ring in, ringer, second, second in command, second string, secondary, sham, shift with, sign, simulated, spare, spares, spear-carrier, spurious, stand in for, stand-in, standby, stopgap, sub, substituent, substitute for, substitution, succedaneum, supe, super, supernumerary, superseder, supplant, supplanter, supplemental, supplementary, supply, support, supporting actor, supporting cast, surrogate, swap, switch, symbol, synecdoche, take in exchange, temporary, tentative, third string, token, trade, understudy, utility, utility man, utility player, vicar, vicar general, vicarious, vice, vice-president, vice-regent, vicegerent, walk-on, walking gentleman
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