sub·​trac·​tion | \ səb-ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce subtraction (audio) \

Definition of subtraction

: an act, operation, or instance of subtracting: such as
a : the withdrawing or withholding of a right to which an individual is entitled
b : the operation of deducting one number from another

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Synonyms & Antonyms for subtraction




accession, addition

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Examples of subtraction in a Sentence

The children are learning addition and subtraction. the restaurant may not have raised the price, but there's definitely been a subtraction in the number of fries in a side order

Recent Examples on the Web

Before the overhaul, this provision was a subtraction from income for each person included on a tax return—typically the members of a family. WSJ, "WSJ Tax Guide 2019: Standard-Deduction Expansion and Personal Exemption," 15 Feb. 2019 Despite a subtraction from trade in the third quarter, inventory investment, which was weak in the second quarter, might be due for a bounceback. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. Economic Growth Slated to Cool in Third Quarter," 27 Sep. 2018 HSAs are beloved by health insurance companies, some of which have set up their own banks to collect account contributions and dole them out — often after the subtraction of sizable customer fees. Michael Hiltzik,, "As midterms approach, conservatives and GOP again attempt to destroy Obamacare," 19 June 2018 The Padres trimmed their 40-man roster to 38 players on Monday, and the subtractions included a popular clubhouse presence. Dennis Lin,, "Hector Sanchez elects free agency," 6 Nov. 2017 The Padres also made a major subtraction, firing El Paso native Alan Zinter. Dennis Lin,, "Padres mailbag: Who will the next hitting coach be?," 4 Sep. 2017 While seemingly innocuous — another extension of a bloated award show that probably needs more subtraction than addition — this is clearly a signal that the Academy is trying to catch up to the times. Jonny Coleman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: Unpacking the Politics of the 2019 Grammy Changes," 27 June 2018 The biggest change on the Experience + Innocence Tour isn’t any technological addition but rather a musical subtraction. Kenneth Partridge, Billboard, "U2 Brings Experience + Innocence to New York's Madison Square Garden," 26 June 2018 That's not the usual addition by subtraction that has become part of every new Browns GM's honeymoon period. Bud Shaw,, "Ty Lue needs to take it slowly, and that won't be easy with the season winding down -- Bud Shaw's Spinoffs," 20 Mar. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for subtraction

Middle English subtraccion, from Anglo-French sustraction, subtraction, from Late Latin subtraction-, subtractio, from Latin subtrahere

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Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for subtraction

The first known use of subtraction was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for subtraction



English Language Learners Definition of subtraction

mathematics : the act or process of subtracting one number from another


sub·​trac·​tion | \ səb-ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce subtraction (audio) \

Kids Definition of subtraction

: the act or process of taking one number away from another

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Comments on subtraction

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


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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