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



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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 For Medvedev, the move away from the premiership is addition by subtraction; prime ministers in Russia tend to take the brunt of the criticism for domestic missteps, as Medvedev did with the recent unpopular pension reform plans. Ian Bremmer, Time, "What Happens Next With Russia's Politics," 17 Jan. 2020 There also can be an income tax subtraction for artistic work produced and sold within the district and other tax exemptions for artists who reside there. Meredith Cohn,, "Maryland designates Baltimore's Pennsylvania Ave. new arts & entertainment district in bid for revitalization," 1 July 2019 The subtraction of Hill and the addition of Allen kept the number of players from Alabama high schools and colleges on the roster for next week's Pro Bowl at 10. Mark Inabinett |, al, "State’s Pro Bowl lineup loses 1, gains 1 when Chiefs win AFC crown," 20 Jan. 2020 The first is a process of subtraction and division; the second, a process of multiplication and addition. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Limits, schlimits: It’s time to rethink how we teach calculus," 10 Nov. 2019 There’s always an acquisition, a subtraction, a statement, or a Netflix cameo to delve into and deconstruct in forensic fashion., "Here are a Baker Mayfield’s half-dozen thoughts on recent developments surrounding the 7-0 Patriots as they prepare to face the Browns:," 25 Oct. 2019 Meanwhile, the relative importance of manufacturing on a state-by-state count was unchanged at 16 -- though there were multiple additions and subtractions within that category. Lee Miller And Wei Lu,, "Property widens its lead over ‘big government’ as U.S. GDP’s top driver," 21 Aug. 2019 This strange drama — built chiefly around subtraction rather than addition — awaits resolution., "SAN DIEGO — On Thursday, the Red Sox featured pitcher David Price in a tweet intended to promote ticket packages for the 2020 season. The choice seemed an odd one given that the team spent the just-concluded Winter Meetings actively seeking a trade partner for the lefthander.," 14 Dec. 2019 This overdue act of architectural subtraction kicks off Thursday, when Mayor Libby Schaaf and others will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for the $20 million first phase of renovations. John King,, "When worlds collide: Lake Merritt and Oakland Museum finally will connect," 21 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for subtraction

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for subtraction

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Subtraction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for subtraction


How to pronounce subtraction (audio)

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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