sub·​trac·​tion səb-ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce subtraction (audio)
: an act, operation, or instance of subtracting: such as
: the withdrawing or withholding of a right to which an individual is entitled
: the operation of deducting one number from another

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 Unfortunately, the human characters have never mattered less, other than trying, ineffectively, to explain the chaos that ensues, as multiplication equals subtraction in a sequel that’s Titan-ic in all the wrong ways. Brian Lowry, CNN, 28 Mar. 2024 Because of that, global timekeepers voted in 2022 to do away with the leap second additions and subtractions by 2035 and let universal time drift away from the pace of the Earth’s rotation. Evan Bush, NBC News, 27 Mar. 2024 So given those additions and subtractions, what will Becki Ball look like? Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 15 Mar. 2024 The weighty output is not for travel, school, or enjoyment but rather a giant subtraction without any immediate satisfaction. Wes Moss, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 Maserati knows there really is such a thing as addition by subtraction. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 1 Mar. 2024 The difference between the two calculations is quite simple: Absolute risk reduction is a matter of subtraction—the percentage point drop in risk of a disease between an untreated and treated group. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 4 Dec. 2023 The kit is designed to work with tablets or mobile phones and helps children quickly master counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division by identifying sequences, patterns, and more. Dorian Smith-Garcia, Parents, 29 Oct. 2023 Notable subtractions: Jimmy Phillips Jr. (graduation), Isaac Slade-Matautia (graduation), Shanon Reid (graduation), Pierre Goree (transfer) Sports Roundup Get the latest D-FW sports news, analysis, scores and more. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, 22 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'subtraction.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near subtraction

Cite this Entry

“Subtraction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


sub·​trac·​tion səb-ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce subtraction (audio)
: an act or instance of subtracting
: the operation of deducting one number from another

More from Merriam-Webster on subtraction

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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