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I am looking for a noun that means the thing substituted.

These substitutions are not perfect. There are material differences between the substitutes and ______________.

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  • 7
    "...the originals"? Jan 20, 2017 at 1:47
  • 1
    "...the replacements"?
    – Rob_Ster
    Jan 20, 2017 at 2:23
  • 2
    the substituted. Jan 20, 2017 at 3:24
  • @Rob_Ster No; that's 'substitutes' again. Jan 20, 2017 at 8:59
  • The substituted.
    – Drew
    Jan 20, 2017 at 20:30

3 Answers 3

1

Agree with Mark Hubbard's comment. How about originals?

OD:

original: Present or existing from the beginning; first or earliest.

Your example:

These substitutions are not perfect. There are material differences between the substitutes and the originals.

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  • It conflicts with my sense of what's right when someone submits an answer largely echoing a previous comment, which was given as a comment rather than an answer presumably because the commenter considered it not to be too exact an answer. 'An original' and 'a thing that has been replaced by a substitute' overlap to a limited extent. You might have an original and a copy, for instance, in the same set. Jan 20, 2017 at 16:58
  • Others have transformed comments they think are of 'answer' standard to community wikis rather than submitting them as their own answers. Don't you find that more gracious? Jan 20, 2017 at 17:32
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These substitutions are not perfect. There are material differences between the substitutes and the substituted.

Here, the substituted stands (as a noun) for the things which were substituted. It is the past participle of substitute and hence functions as an adjective (as per the ODO definition of past participle), which in turn is allowed to act as a noun (in this context). Check the reference below, specifically, the example where the insured (past participle of insure) is used in the sense of those who are insured (noun).

M-W Learner's Dictionary - "Ask the Editor":

Adjectives used as nouns

Can adjectives function like nouns?
Answer: Just as nouns can function like adjectives, as we highlighted in our previous post, so can adjectives function like nouns.

A lot of adjectives are used this way, many referring to classes of people:
a shelter for the homeless
tax breaks for the insured

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Ersatz as in ersatz coffee made from acorns that the British drank during the rationing and privations of World War 1939-45.

"Borrowed from German, where Ersatz is a noun meaning 'substitute,' the word was frequently applied...in English to items like coffee (from acorns) and flour (from potatoes) - ersatz products resulting from privations of war." (Merriam-Webster).

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  • He's asking for a word for the thing that was there prior to the substitute, not a word for the substitute. Also, ersatz generally implies that the replacement is not as good as the original.
    – Barmar
    Jan 20, 2017 at 19:14

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