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

Some research indicates this plant may have potential sedative and anxiety-reducing effects by increasing the neurotransmitter GABA. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "What You Need to Know About OTC Sleep Aids, According to Neurologists," 30 Jan. 2019 Lavender, peach, and green ribbons—not to mention moisturizing glycerin and dimethicone—swirl together in Stila’s double-tap-worthy, redness-reducing gel. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "Say Goodbye to Winter Redness With These 6 CC Creams," 16 Jan. 2019 The deal includes a 6-percent pay hike and a commitment to reduce class sizes over four years. Amanda Lee Myers, The Seattle Times, "Los Angeles teachers return to classes after reaching deal," 23 Jan. 2019 That’s not enough money to reduce class sizes that frequently surpass 100, or make sure every student has access to textbooks. Sarah Butrymowicz, Marie Claire, "Refugee Girls Want to Change the World. Will We Let Them?," 7 Jan. 2019 The Telegraph reports that the Royal Navy could use A.I. and VR tech in the future to reduce the size of ship’s crews. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Future Warships Could Be Sailed Remotely with Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality," 27 Nov. 2018 On the federal side, organizations like NEW are competing for grants through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) program, which was reduced last year to a total of $1.5 million annually. Amanda Abrams, Curbed, "Women are the solution to the construction industry’s labor shortage," 5 Nov. 2018 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

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

11 Feb 2019

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).


a servile follower or underling

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