ir·​re·​duc·​ible ˌir-i-ˈdü-sə-bəl How to pronounce irreducible (audio)
: impossible to transform into or restore to a desired or simpler condition
an irreducible matrix
specifically : incapable of being factored into polynomials of lower degree with coefficients in some given field (such as the rational numbers) or integral domain (such as the integers)
an irreducible equation
: impossible to make less or smaller
an irreducible minimum
irreducibility noun
irreducibly adverb

Example Sentences

They thought the world was made up of four irreducible elements: earth, air, fire, and water.
Recent Examples on the Web The irreducible historical trauma (and vast collective culpability) that would make the background for such an objection to the story isn’t subject to dismissal. Cressida Leyshon, The New Yorker, 24 Oct. 2022 All of Aviv’s subjects, herself included, live at the mercy of social and medical constructions, and yet strive to shape and reshape their irreducible, protean selves. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, 13 Sep. 2022 Two identities on the run, each one fighting with his own ghost, who discover in their duel an irreducible common ground that unites them. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 1 Aug. 2022 Odenkirk’s belief that truly great jokes carry some irreducible amount of anger — and that this anger’s noblest function is to torpedo pieties and hypocrisies — helps explain his lifelong commitment to sketch comedy. New York Times, 9 Feb. 2022 But there’s one irreducible truth to every human endeavor: risk is risky. Scott Carney, Outside Online, 22 Apr. 2020 First, the United States and China must have a clear, granular understanding of each other’s irreducible strategic redlines in order to help prevent conflict through miscalculation. Kevin Rudd, Time, 4 Apr. 2022 Corwin added scope with montages of worldwide impact and nature inserts, not so much to underscore the story’s climate change metaphor, but to represent irreducible truth in a scenario steeped in the misinformation of our age. Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2022 The result is too vast and irreducible to fully appreciate in a single reading. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 17 Dec. 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1633, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of irreducible was in 1633

Dictionary Entries Near irreducible

Cite this Entry

“Irreducible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



ir·​re·​duc·​ible ˌir-i-ˈd(y)ü-sə-bəl How to pronounce irreducible (audio)
: not reducible
irreducibility noun
irreducibly adverb

Medical Definition



ir·​re·​duc·​ible ˌir-i-ˈd(y)ü-sə-bəl How to pronounce irreducible (audio)
: impossible to bring into a desired or normal state
an irreducible hernia
irreducibility noun
plural irreducibilities

More from Merriam-Webster on irreducible

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