Latin substantia translates Greek ousia "that which is one's own, one's substance or property; the being, essence, or nature of anything." Meaning "any kind of corporeal matter" is first attested mid-14c. Sense of "the matter of a study, discourse, etc." first recorded late 14c.
"a substance produced by a chemical process, a chemical agent," 1747, from chemical (adj.). Related: Chemicals.
1570s, "relating to chemistry, pertaining to the phenomena with which chemistry deals," from chemic "of alchemy" (a worn-down derivative of Medieval Latin alchimicus; see alchemy) + -al (1). In early use also of alchemy. Related: Chemically. Chemical warfare is attested from 1917.
1785, originally in chemistry, "a substance used to effect chemical change in another substance to render its nature more evident," from re- + agent (n.) "substance that produces a chemical reaction."
"detergent substance," 1670s, from detergent (adj.). Originally a medical term; application to "chemical cleansing product" is by 1932.