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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for subtraction



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 There's all sorts of ways to do this, but fundamentally, it's got to be a practice of addition by addition, not addition by subtraction. NBC News, 6 June 2021 To many fans, his track record is one of far more subtraction than addition. Jon Meoli,, 27 May 2021 There are plenty of other examples in which overlooked solutions that involve subtraction turn out to be better alternatives. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, 7 Apr. 2021 This benefit was a subtraction from income for each person included on a tax return—typically the members of a family. Richard Rubin, WSJ, 8 Apr. 2021 This tendency for workplace leaders to default to the path of addition instead of subtraction eliminates a vast array of potential creative solutions to workplace problems. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 17 Apr. 2021 Touring the school, he was found fifth-graders working on math, first-graders doing subtraction and prekindergartners taking a morning movement break. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2021 Kelly Shea, 25, already knew the pain of subtraction. USA Today, 16 Mar. 2021 Even at the most fundamental level of simple operations such as addition or subtraction, the processing speed dictates a physical reality onto the operation that is detached from the simulated reality of the operation itself. Fouad Khan, Scientific American, 1 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subtraction

Time Traveler for subtraction

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for subtraction

Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subtraction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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