substance

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in substance

1. Concerning or related to the essential elements; fundamentally or substantially. In substance, the proposed bill would reduce the amount of calories in meals served at school cafeterias, though the details of how this would be implemented aren't yet clear.
2. Actually; in reality. I was promoted to a managerial role in the restaurant, but in substance, I'm just a shift supervisor.
See also: substance

take the shadow for the substance

dated To accept something false, deceitful, shallow, or insubstantial in place of something true, meaningful, or valuable. (Said especially in religious lectures or sermons about shunning or being led away from faith or the dictates of the church.) In today's modern, materialistic world, it is all too easy to take the shadow for the substance.
See also: shadow, substance, take

controlled substance

A drug whose availability is limited by law. A: "I thought you could just find your medication on the shelf at the pharmacy." B: "Nah, I'm on a new one, and it's a controlled substance, so I have a prescription for it." I'm really glad I didn't follow in my brother's footsteps and become addicted to controlled substances.
See also: control, substance

form and substance

structure and meaningful content. The first act of the play was one screaming match after another. It lacked form and substance throughout. Jane's report was good. The teacher commented on the excellent form and substance of the paper.
See also: and, form, substance

sum and substance

a summary; the gist. Can you quickly tell me the sum and substance of your proposal? In trying to explain the sum and substance of the essay, Thomas failed to mention the middle name of the hero.
See also: and, substance, sum

in substance

1. In reality, essentially, as in The Archbishop of Salzburg was in substance a temporal authority as well. [Late 1300s]
2. In essence, basically, as in I don't remember all the details, but in substance this was the plan. [Late 1400s]
See also: substance

sum and substance

The essence or gist of something, as in The sum and substance of their platform is financial conservatism. This redundant expression-both sum and substance here mean "essence"-has probably survived owing to alliteration. Shakespeare used it in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (4:1): "My riches are these poor habiliments [clothes], Of which if you should here disfurnish me, You take the sum and substance that I have."
See also: and, substance, sum

a woman, man, person, etc. of ˈsubstance

(formal) a person who is important, powerful or rich: In those days, a station master was a man of substance in the community.
See also: of, substance
References in classic literature ?
65) a singular "artificial substance resembling shell.
With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated; while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.
The Tutao thus baked is called 'Amar'; the action of the oven having converted it into an amber-coloured caky substance, a little tart, but not at all disagreeable to the taste.
This terrible fowl had no head that we could perceive, but was fashioned entirely of belly, which was of a prodigious fatness and roundness, of a soft-looking substance, smooth, shining and striped with various colors.
Another took this luminary with the moon and the planets, and having first weighed them with scrupulous accuracy, probed into their depths and found out the solidity of the substance of which they were made.
We know that mind has the power to maintain substance even though it may not be able to create substance--the latter is still an open question.
Even the etherealists admit that mind itself must have substance in order to transmit to imaginings the appearance of substance.
In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.
The theory is something like this: Space is pervaded by luminiferous ether, which is a material thing--as much a substance as air or water, though almost infinitely more attenuated.
17-19) Hail, Mother of the gods, wife of starry Heaven; freely bestow upon me for this my song substance that cheers the heart
The terms used in them are in their substance and general meaning the same, although they seem to be different.
A certain influence of mathematics both on the form and substance of their philosophy is discernible in both of them.
This substance is found quite pure in many bodies, especially in cotton, which is nothing more than the down of the seeds of the cotton plant.
Come, thou jolly substance, with thy shining face, keep back thy inspiration, but hold forth thy tempting rewards; thy shining, chinking heap; thy quickly convertible bank-bill, big with unseen riches; thy often-varying stock; the warm, the comfortable house; and, lastly, a fair portion of that bounteous mother, whose flowing breasts yield redundant sustenance for all her numerous offspring, did not some too greedily and wantonly drive their brethren from the teat.
In spite of the immense sums cost him by the hospital, by machinery, by cows ordered from Switzerland, and many other things, he was convinced that he was not wasting, but increasing his substance.