from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Below; under; beneath: subsoil.
  • Subordinate; secondary: subplot.
  • Subdivision: subregion.
  • Less than completely or normally; nearly; almost: subhuman.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • under, beneath
  • subsidiary, secondary
  • almost, nearly

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A prefix signifying under, below, beneath, and hence often, in an inferior position or degree, in an imperfect or partial state, as in subscribe, substruct, subserve, subject, subordinate, subacid, subastringent, subgranular, suborn. Sub- in Latin compounds often becomes sum- before m, sur before r, and regularly becomes suc-, suf-, sug-, and sup- before c, f, g, and p respectively. Before c, p, and t it sometimes takes form sus- (by the dropping of b from a collateral form, subs-).
  • A prefix denoting that the ingredient (of a compound) signified by the term to which it is prefixed,is present in only a small proportion, or less than the normal amount; Prefixed to the name of a salt it is equivalent to basic.


Middle English, from Latin, from sub, under; see upo in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Latin sub, meaning under (Wiktionary)



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