One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person who puts one thing in place of another; a person who replaces one thing with another; specifically a person who sells an inferior or cheaper product (originally a medicine) in place of the one desired by the purchaser, with the aim of increasing profit; a person who passes off one manufacturer's goods as another's.
Early 17th century (in an earlier sense). Partly from post-classical Latin substitutor person who appoints a substitute, and partly from substitute + -or.
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