sub·​trac·​tive səb-ˈtrak-tiv How to pronounce subtractive (audio)
: tending to subtract
: constituting or involving subtraction

Examples of subtractive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On its face, and by the sound of it, degrowth is subtractive, which seems bad. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 1 Feb. 2024 But of course nothing like that could have happened, and the actual process was subtractive rather than additive. Jared Diamond, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 That eliminates the specialized and time-consuming CNC programming that’s required for the subtractive process. Mantle has worked with a number of parts producers to evaluate and validate its materials and technology, including Tessy Plastics and a global medical device manufacturer. Jim Vinoski, Forbes, 21 Sep. 2021 Tragedy often exerts a subtractive centrifugal force on a family, spinning apart and severing the bonds of those who remain. Laura Van Straaten, Town & Country, 25 Feb. 2023 Ultimately, the collaboration feels mutually subtractive. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 14 Dec. 2022 Additive genetic variance just means the variants which have additive or subtractive values to the trait value (or, they can be transformed as such). Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 9 June 2011 One of the more peculiar features of Morris’ art is that her compositions feel subtractive rather than additive. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2022 Among the 338 people tested with these simple instructions, only 90 provided a single subtractive idea in their list of all possible improvements to the miniature golf hole. Leidy Klotz, Scientific American, 12 May 2022

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

Word History

First Known Use

1690, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of subtractive was in 1690

Dictionary Entries Near subtractive

Cite this Entry

“Subtractive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


sub·​trac·​tive səb-ˈtrak-tiv How to pronounce subtractive (audio)
: being or involving subtraction

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