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

But in Bella Hadid's world, the call for kitsch offered an opportunity for strategic subtraction rather than infinite addition. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Bella Hadid Reveals a Radical New Pixie Cut at the Met Gala," 7 May 2019 But the Cavs took a different route, addressing a few of their on-court flaws with additions and improving the air in the locker room with subtractions. Chris Fedor,, "Cleveland Cavaliers are contenders again after Koby Altman transforms roster: Chris Fedor," 8 Feb. 2018 In Bartolo’s second-grade class, 8-year-old Nicholas Reiley got the subtraction problem right. Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio not closing educational achievement gap with major Texas metros, study finds," 20 May 2018 In the battery of 100 tests, blue represented addition and yellow subtraction. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Bees Are the Math Whizzes of the Insect Kingdom," 6 Feb. 2019 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

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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Statistics for subtraction

Last Updated

21 May 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).


showing courage and determination

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