mid-14c., "residential area outside a town or city," from Old French suburbe, from Latin suburbium "an outlying part of a city," from sub "below, near" (see sub-) + urbs (genitive urbis) "city." An Old English word for it was underburg. Close to crowds but just beyond the reach of municipal jurisdiction, suburbs in 17c., especially those of London, had a sense of "inferior, debased, and licentious habits or life" (e.g. suburban sinner, slang for "loose woman, prostitute"). By 1817, the tinge had shifted to "inferior manners and narrow views." Compare also French equivalent faubourg.