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sub·stan·tive / ˈsəbstəntiv/ • adj. 1. having a firm basis in reality and therefore important, meaningful, or considerable: there is no substantive evidence for the efficacy of these drugs. 2. having a separate and independent existence. ∎  (of a dye) not needing a mordant. 3. (of law) defining rights and duties as opposed to giving the rules by which such things are established. • n. Gram. a noun. DERIVATIVES: sub·stan·ti·val / ˌsəbstənˈtīvəl/ adj. sub·stan·tive·ly adv.

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SUBSTANTIVE. A grammatical term that in the Middle Ages included both NOUN and adjective, but later meant noun exclusively. It is not usually found in later 20c English grammars. In such languages as Latin and French, the equivalent terms serve to distinguish the use of LATIN nomen, French nom (etc.) as ‘name’ from the grammatical use as ‘noun’, a distinction which is unnecessary in English. However, the term has been used to refer to nouns and any other parts of speech serving as nouns (‘the substantive in English’). The adjective local is used substantively in the sentence He had a drink at the local before going home (that is, the local public house).

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