Definition - Any word that is used to label any specific thing or set of things.

1. That which expresses existence is substantive, hence the verb to be is called the the substantive verb.

Example -
All nouns — such as the words Bob, dog, and imagination — are substantives.

Etymology -
The French introduced the grammatical term substantive in about 1393 to distinguish nouns from adjectives. It derives from the Latin phrase nomen substantivum, name or word of substance.

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1393: "As adiectif and substantyf vnite asken, Acordaunce in kynde, in cas and in numbre."
(Langl. P. Pl. C. iv. 338)

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