Etymology
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substitute (v.)

early 15c. (transitive), from Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere "put in place of another" (see substitution). Transitive use is from 1888. Related: Substituted; substituting.

substitute (n.)

"one who acts in place of another," early 15c., from Old French substitut (noun use) and directly from Latin substitutus, past participle of substituere "put in place of another" (see substitution). Military draft sense is from 1777, American English. Team sports sense is from 1849. Of foodstuffs, from 1879. As an adjective from early 15c.

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Definitions of substitute
1
substitute (v.)
put in the place of another; switch seemingly equivalent items;
substitute regular milk for fat-free milk
substitute (v.)
act as a substitute;
Synonyms: deputize / deputise / step in
substitute (v.)
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
Synonyms: sub / stand in / fill in
2
substitute (n.)
a person or thing that takes or can take the place of another;
Synonyms: replacement
substitute (n.)
an athlete who plays only when a starter on the team is replaced;
Synonyms: reserve / second-stringer
substitute (n.)
someone who takes the place of another (as when things get dangerous or difficult);
Synonyms: stand-in / relief / reliever / backup / backup man / fill-in
3
substitute (adj.)
capable of substituting in any of several positions on a team;
Synonyms: utility
substitute (adj.)
serving or used in place of another;
Synonyms: alternate / alternative
substitute (adj.)
artificial and inferior;
substitute coffee
Synonyms: ersatz
From wordnet.princeton.edu