Etymology
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substance (n.)

c. 1300, "essential nature, real or essential part," from Old French sustance, substance "goods, possessions; nature, composition" (12c.), from Latin substantia "being, essence, material," from substans, present participle of substare "stand firm, stand or be under, be present," from sub "up to, under" (see sub-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

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.

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Definitions of substance

substance (n.)
the real physical matter of which a person or thing consists;
DNA is the substance of our genes
substance (n.)
the choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience;
Synonyms: kernel / core / center / centre / essence / gist / heart / heart and soul / inwardness / marrow / meat / nub / pith / sum / nitty-gritty
substance (n.)
the idea that is intended;
Synonyms: meaning
substance (n.)
material of a particular kind or constitution;
the immune response recognizes invading substances
substance (n.)
considerable capital (wealth or income);
Synonyms: means
substance (n.)
what a communication that is about something is about;
Synonyms: message / content / subject matter
substance (n.)
the property of holding together and retaining its shape;
substance (n.)
a particular kind or species of matter with uniform properties;
shigella is one of the most toxic substances known to man
From wordnet.princeton.edu