re·​duce | \ri-ˈdüs, -ˈdyüs\
reduced; reducing

Definition of reduce 

transitive verb

1a : to draw together or cause to converge : consolidate reduce all the questions to one

b(1) : to diminish in size, amount, extent, or number reduce taxes reduce the likelihood of war

(2) : to decrease the volume and concentrate the flavor of by boiling add the wine and reduce the sauce for two minutes

c : to narrow down : restrict the Indians were reduced to small reservations

d : to make shorter : abridge

2 archaic : to restore to righteousness : save

3 : to bring to a specified state or condition the impact of the movie reduced them to tears

4a : to force to capitulate

b : force, compel

5a : to bring to a systematic form or character reduce natural events to laws

b : to put down in written or printed form reduce an agreement to writing

6 : to correct (a fracture) by bringing displaced or broken parts back into their normal positions

7a : to lower in grade or rank : demote

b : to lower in condition or status : downgrade

8a : to diminish in strength or density

b : to diminish in value

9a(1) : to change the denominations or form of without changing the value

(2) : to construct a geometrical figure similar to but smaller than (a given figure)

b : to transpose from one form into another : convert

c : to change (an expression) to an equivalent but more fundamental expression reduce a fraction

10 : to break down (as by crushing or grinding) : pulverize

11a : to bring to the metallic state by removal of nonmetallic elements reduce an ore by heat

b : deoxidize

c : to combine with or subject to the action of hydrogen

d(1) : to change (an element or ion) from a higher to a lower oxidation state

(2) : to add one or more electrons to (an atom or ion or molecule)

12 : to change (a stressed vowel) to an unstressed vowel

intransitive verb

1a(1) : to become diminished or lessened especially : to lose weight by dieting

(2) : to become reduced ferric iron reduces to ferrous iron

b : to become concentrated or consolidated

c : to undergo meiosis

2 : to become converted or equated

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Other Words from reduce

reducer noun
reducibility \ri-​ˌdü-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē, -​ˌdyü-​ \ noun
reducible \ri-​ˈdü-​sə-​bəl, -​ˈdyü-​ \ adjective
reducibly \ri-​ˈdü-​sə-​blē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for reduce


break, bust, degrade, demote, disrate, downgrade


advance, elevate, promote, raise

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Choose the Right Synonym for reduce

decrease, lessen, diminish, reduce, abate, dwindle mean to grow or make less. decrease suggests a progressive decline in size, amount, numbers, or intensity. slowly decreased the amount of pressure lessen suggests a decline in amount rather than in number. has been unable to lessen her debt diminish emphasizes a perceptible loss and implies its subtraction from a total. his visual acuity has diminished reduce implies a bringing down or lowering. you must reduce your caloric intake abate implies a reducing of something excessive or oppressive in force or amount. the storm abated dwindle implies progressive lessening and is applied to things growing visibly smaller. their provisions dwindled slowly

conquer, vanquish, defeat, subdue, reduce, overcome, overthrow mean to get the better of by force or strategy. conquer implies gaining mastery of. Caesar conquered Gaul vanquish implies a complete overpowering. vanquished the enemy and ended the war defeat does not imply the finality or completeness of vanquish which it otherwise equals. the Confederates defeated the Union forces at Manassas subdue implies a defeating and suppression. subdued the native tribes after years of fighting reduce implies a forcing to capitulate or surrender. the city was reduced after a month-long siege overcome suggests getting the better of with difficulty or after hard struggle. overcame a host of bureaucratic roadblocks overthrow stresses the bringing down or destruction of existing power. violently overthrew the old regime

Examples of reduce in a Sentence

The medicine reduces the risk of infection. We are trying to reduce our debt. Stricter speed limit enforcement has reduced the number of car accidents. Her prison sentence was reduced from 15 years to 10.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Add 2 teaspoons salt, reduce heat, and simmer until just tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to the pot. Woman's Day Test Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Garlic- and Sage-Infused Mashed Potatoes," 24 Oct. 2018 Cook 2 minutes or until well coated and vinegar has reduced, stirring occasionally. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts," 23 Oct. 2018 Studies show that walking or biking to work (or taking public transportation, if those aren’t doable) can reduce overall stress levels and have a positive effect on a person’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Patricia Garcia, Vogue, "If Climate Change Is Causing You Anxiety or Even Grief, Experts Say You are Not Alone," 19 Oct. 2018 Regular exercise, eating nutritious foods, and getting good amounts of sleep (about 8 to ten hours a night) will help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, Hibbs says. Eileen Reslen, Seventeen, "3 Vital Tips for College Students Who Are Struggling With Mental Health," 10 Oct. 2018 The catalyst surface reduces the high heat that would otherwise be necessary to ignite woodsmoke. Roy Berendson, Popular Mechanics, "The Ultimate Guide To Cutting and Splitting Firewood," 28 Sep. 2018 Richard Palmer, the royal correspondent for the Daily Express, reported that a British bookmaker had reduced the odds of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's first child being born in 2019 to 1-4. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Why People Are Jumping to Conclusions About Meghan Markle and Zika Right Now," 13 Sep. 2018 The company has built a number of features into the speakers like automatic volume leveling, night mode (which reduces loud sounds), and speech clarity. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Roku TV Wireless Speakers launch November 16th for $200," 15 Nov. 2018 Watch More Moving Upstream Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said the Pentagon is working on autonomous fighter jets that could substantially reduce costs and perform better in combat than human pilots. Jason Bellini, WSJ, "The Future of Flight: AI in the Cockpit," 12 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reduce.' 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 reduce

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for reduce

Middle English, to lead back, from Latin reducere, from re- + ducere to lead — more at tow entry 1

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Statistics for reduce

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reduce

The first known use of reduce was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for reduce



English Language Learners Definition of reduce

: to make (something) smaller in size, amount, number, etc.

: to cause (someone) to be in a specified state or condition

: to cause (something) to be in a specified form by breaking it, burning it, etc.


re·​duce | \ri-ˈdüs, -ˈdyüs\
reduced; reducing

Kids Definition of reduce

1 : to make smaller or less reduce expenses Reduce your speed ahead.

2 : to bring to a usually worse state The story reduced them to tears.

3 : to lower in grade or rank

4 : to change to a simpler form Reduce a fraction to its lowest terms.

5 : to lose weight by dieting


re·​duce | \ri-ˈd(y)üs \
reduced; reducing

Medical Definition of reduce 

transitive verb

1 : to correct (as a fracture or a herniated mass) by bringing displaced or broken parts back into their normal positions

2a : to bring to the metallic state by removal of nonmetallic elements reduce an ore by heat

b : deoxidize

c : to combine with or subject to the action of hydrogen

d(1) : to change (an element or ion) from a higher to a lower oxidation state

(2) : to add one or more electrons to (an atom or ion or molecule)

intransitive verb

1 : to become diminished or lessened especially : to lose weight by dieting

2 : to become reduced ferrous iron reduces to ferric iron

3 : to undergo meiosis

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re·​duce | \ri-ˈdüs, -ˈdyüs \
reduced; reducing

Legal Definition of reduce 

1 : to make smaller

2a : to convert (a chose in action) into a chose in possession enforcement action sought to reduce to possession her property interest in the…determination of money damagesHaynes v. Contat, 643 N.E.2d 941 (1994)

b : to convert by enforcement through litigation may reduce a claim to judgment, foreclose, or otherwise enforce the claimUniform Commercial Code

reduce to practice

: to cause to undergo reduction to practice

Other Words from reduce

reducibility \-​ˌdü-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē, -​ˌdyü-​ \ noun
reducible \-​ˈdü-​sə-​bəl, -​ˈdyü-​ \ adjective
reducibly adverb
reduction \ri-​ˈdək-​shən \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on reduce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for reduce

Spanish Central: Translation of reduce

Nglish: Translation of reduce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reduce for Arabic Speakers

Comments on reduce

What made you want to look up reduce? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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