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 This benefit was a subtraction from income for each person included on a tax return—typically the members of a family. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Standard Deduction 2020-2021: What It Is and How it Affects Your Taxes," 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, "Business Leaders Often Overlook This Brilliant Problem-Solving Strategy When Making Career Decisions," 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, "Education Secretary Cardona praises newly reopened school in Maryland during reopening tour," 6 Apr. 2021 Kelly Shea, 25, already knew the pain of subtraction. USA Today, "How the pandemic changed lives: In a horrific year of loss, some unexpected joys," 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, "Confirmed! We Live in a Simulation," 1 Apr. 2021 The literary convention is that nothing major can happen to them except through subtraction. Claire Messud, The New York Review of Books, "Alison Lurie (1926–2020)," 5 Jan. 2021 The literary convention is that nothing major can happen to them except through subtraction. Claire Messud, The New York Review of Books, "Alison Lurie (1926–2020)," 5 Jan. 2021 Combined with the subtraction of the average noise, this could lead to disaster: seeing a signal where there is none. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, "Goodbye, DAMA/LIBRA: World’s Most Controversial Dark Matter Experiment Fails Replication Test," 4 Mar. 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.

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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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subtraction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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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