Definition of insubstantial in English:



  • 1Lacking strength and solidity.

    ‘the huts are relatively few and insubstantial’
    ‘insubstantial evidence’
    • ‘Any justification very likely can appear or be made to appear judgmental, discriminatory, unfairly harsh, insubstantial or even anachronistic.’
    • ‘Before this time, uranium mining was insubstantial; the only reason it was mined was to obtain radium for cancer treatment and fluorescent dials.’
    • ‘Readers may safely treat his latest intervention as being what it appears to be: hasty, heated, and insubstantial.’
    • ‘But no matter how many more dot.coms go bust, nobody should infer from the fall-out that the engines of the new economy are passing, insubstantial fashions soon to fade.’
    • ‘So if you think this is a site you're likely to read often and get something out of, we're asking if you can chip in some funds for the not insubstantial costs of launching the new site and getting it on its feet.’
    • ‘It's feared a wooden fence separating the two properties was insubstantial, and people standing on the balconies of their new homes would be able to look down on gardens surrounding the Lodge.’
    • ‘And so they didn't seem showy and insubstantial, they seemed like real thoughts that had a particular weight.’
    • ‘It amused me to see the insubstantial evidence you had pieced together as your argument against airguns.’
    • ‘It was his fatuous, smirky tone and insubstantial jibes.’
    • ‘What has been written is vague and insubstantial.’
    • ‘Yet when, outraged at such affront, we stand on our rights and demand redress, we would do well to remember how insubstantial the dignity is on which those rights are based.’
    • ‘Because thoughts are insubstantial until we bring them into some kind of material reality with speech, writing, art, machines etc.’
    • ‘What they almost all had in common was that they cost a lot of money, made you miserable and resulted in staggeringly insubstantial weight losses that were completely negated by your drinking a glass of water.’
    • ‘Despite some stalwart work by those at the helm of the second and youth teams, the structures that support them are insubstantial, and the development of the game in the community is patchy at best.’
    • ‘As one pack of financial cards falls after another, US capitalism will experience a cleansing of the most exposed and insubstantial parts of the financialised economy.’
    • ‘Otherwise we get a philosophy that tends to become insubstantial and vaporous.’
    • ‘Relative to the musical company into which he's been thrust, his vocal melodies are insubstantial and lyrics pretty but vague.’
    • ‘Contrariwise, juries may convict where the judicial decision-maker would find the evidence insubstantial.’
    • ‘However, the article views the dispute as insubstantial.’
    • ‘Whether you think it's lovely but insubstantial, or lovely and great, will depend in large part on what you expect from greatness.’
    flimsy, slight, light, fragile, breakable, weak, frail, shaky, unstable, wobbly, tottery, rickety, ramshackle, makeshift
    weak, flimsy, feeble, poor, inadequate, insufficient, thin, slight, tenuous, insignificant, inconsequential, unsubstantial, unconvincing, implausible, unsatisfactory, paltry, trifling, trivial, shallow
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    1. 1.1 Not having physical existence.
      ‘the flickering light made her face seem insubstantial’
      • ‘What strangers we meet are wraith-like, insubstantial, as if at a quarter-turn from our reality.’
      • ‘The basic unit of classical space is the room, and we should think of it not as a void but as an expansive, albeit insubstantial and invisible, mass.’
      • ‘We who lived in the suburbs of towns that were themselves anonymous and mediocre were exiles from the city's Real: insubstantial wraiths, resigned to our status as non-beings.’
      • ‘She had never seemed so insubstantial, so illusory.’
      • ‘Her illegitimate position has rendered her wraithlike and insubstantial, almost disembodied.’
      • ‘The figure, in its nakedness, has an almost ghostly, insubstantial quality, a pathetic vulnerability.’
      • ‘At times, the book is about as convincing as a fairytale, proffering only light and insubstantial imaginings.’
      • ‘Motoko can make herself and others invisible, inaudible, insubstantial… you get the idea.’
      • ‘She becomes daily more insubstantial, her figure wraithlike.’
      • ‘Grandma and grandpa were there too, only in like a sort of ghostly insubstantial form.’
      • ‘Scare story: if spirits weren't so frustratingly insubstantial, Ham House could sell 'em by the pound.’
      intangible, impalpable, indefinable, indescribable, vague, obscure, unclear, indistinct
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Early 17th century: from late Latin insubstantialis, from in- ‘not’ + substantialis (see substantial).