sub·​trac·​tive | \ səb-ˈtrak-tiv How to pronounce subtractive (audio) \

Definition of subtractive

1 : tending to subtract
2 : constituting or involving subtraction

Examples of subtractive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unlike additive manufacturing, which builds up material layer by layer, subtractive manufacturing allows users to place their material (wood, leather, acrylic, stone, etc.) into the machine and carve out or engrave the product using laser light. Andrea Leinfelder, Houston Chronicle, "WeWork pilots 3D printing in Houston," 20 June 2019 But the risk is that this combination of exacting precision and stark moralism can be subtractive rather than additive. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign and policy positions, explained," 26 June 2019 Those processes are collectively referred to as subtractive manufacturing. Pam Baker, Ars Technica, "Artificial Intelligence and the coming of the self-designing machine," 6 Dec. 2018 The unusual tools were born out of the designer’s interest in new means of making, specifically ones involving additive techniques, like those used in 3D printing, as opposed to traditional subtractive methods. Kyle Vanhemert, WIRED, "These Crazy Guns Shoot Pewter, Plastic, and Paper Mache," 25 June 2013 Mills use a subtractive method, starting with a block of solid materials like Crowninshield's blanks and removing all the parts that are not needed. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Man Gets Three Years In Prison for Selling CNC Milled Gun Parts," 20 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subtractive.' 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 subtractive

1690, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of subtractive was in 1690

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Cite this Entry

“Subtractive.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

More from Merriam-Webster on subtractive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subtractive

Britannica English: Translation of subtractive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on subtractive

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easily led, controlled, or managed

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