ur·​ban | \ ˈər-bən How to pronounce urban (audio) \

Definition of urban

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city


biographical name
Ur·​ban | \ ˈər-bən How to pronounce Urban (audio) \

Definition of Urban (Entry 2 of 2)

name of 8 popes: especially II ( Odo \ ˈō-​(ˌ)dō How to pronounce Urban (audio) \ of Lagery) circa 1035–1099 (pope 1088–99)

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The Suburbs vs. the Urbs

Given that most of the common words in our language beginning sub- tend to have meanings concerned with “beneath” (as in subterranean and submarine) or “less than” (as with subpar), you would be forgiven for assuming that the suburbs were so named because of their location below, or their status as less than, their urban counterparts. Not so, however: sub- may have other meanings at the beginning of a word; in this case, it indicates not depth or inferiority, but proximity. In other words, the suburbs are a region close to the urbs.

Is urbs an English word? Yes; it is rarely used, but it refers typically to a city, particularly when distinguished from a suburb.

Examples of urban in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Tennessee’s outbreak began concentrated in large urban areas but has moved into more rural communities with fewer health care resources. USA TODAY, "More recycling, luxury nut surplus, free degree: News from around our 50 states," 4 Aug. 2020 There's also a flash flood warning for Jefferson County until 11:15 p.m., warning small creeks and streams could flood as well as urban areas, highways, streets, underpasses and drainage and low lying areas. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "National Weather Service: Flash flood watch in effect for Louisville all night," 31 July 2020 According to Time Out, the aircraft will hopefully act as a short-distance method of traveling within urban areas, allowing passengers to fly over traffic and congestion. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "Airbus' 'Flying Taxi' Could Change How We Travel in Cities," 31 July 2020 Prior to Abbott’s order, though, the requirements to wear a mask or not in public varied and were more common in large, urban areas of the state — including Harris County and Houston. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "Stuck in the middle: Residents of Woodlands neighborhood navigate pandemic orders from 2 counties," 31 July 2020 During recent primary elections, some voters experienced long lines at the polls as fewer polling locations were open, particularly in urban areas which are more densely populated. CBS News, "CBS News Eye on Trends: The latest from the Election & Survey Unit," 30 July 2020 West was expected to be strong in urban areas, along with East Texas. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "MJ Hegar won key Hispanic support in Democratic runoff for Senate. Will it matter vs. John Cornyn?," 30 July 2020 Social unrest has prompted citizens in urban areas to buy a handgun for personal protection. Chris Mudgett, Outdoor Life, "9mm vs. .380 Auto vs. .38 Special: Which Concealed Carry Cartridge is the Best?," 30 July 2020 The shortcomings disproportionately impact minority communities, most notably Black Americans in urban areas. Kyu Rhee, Fortune, "There are 3 more curves to flatten in addition to COVID-19’s," 29 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'urban.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of urban


circa 1634, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for urban


Latin urbanus, from urbs city

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Time Traveler for urban

Time Traveler

The first known use of urban was circa 1634

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Statistics for urban

Last Updated

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Urban.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urban. Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for urban


How to pronounce Urban (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of urban

: of or relating to cities and the people who live in them


ur·​ban | \ ˈər-bən How to pronounce urban (audio) \

Kids Definition of urban

: of, relating to, or being a city urban life

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More from Merriam-Webster on urban

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for urban

Spanish Central: Translation of urban

Nglish: Translation of urban for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of urban for Arabic Speakers

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