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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

It can be used inside or out, but its effectiveness is reduced when exposed to rain. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Get Rid of Termites," 8 Jan. 2019 This reduces how much alcohol gets carried up in each bubble (too much alcohol can overpower the champagne's more delicate flavors). Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The secret to champagne’s universal appeal is the physics of bubbles," 31 Dec. 2018 As darkness came, the expansive distances of Kaokoland were reduced to the intimate circle of firelight. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018 Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Chrissy Teigen Is Cooking Some of Her Favorite Recipes on Instagram," 18 Dec. 2018 However, his punishment will likely be significantly reduced in the wake of his admission. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Baltimore police commissioner admits he failed to file taxes in wake of federal charges," 2 Oct. 2018 Balance: Investors have doubts about the cartel’s plan to balance the market, especially as tumbling stock markets create fears of global recession that could reduce demand more. Neanda Salvaterra, WSJ, "U.S. Oil Prices Fall to 18-Month Low as Wall Street Tumbles," 24 Dec. 2018 And although the initial boot time will take some time, Microsoft will freeze the state of the VM, post-boot, and refer to it when opening future instances of Sandbox—reducing that boot time significantly. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft announces Windows Sandbox, a virtualized safe space for testing untrusted apps," 19 Dec. 2018 Other birth-control methods for men that are in early trials at UW include a pill that reduces levels of testosterone and other hormones responsible for sperm production. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "More effective than condoms? Seattle-area couples test new birth control for men," 11 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about reduce

Statistics for reduce

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reduce

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!