[mahy-nuh s]


less by the subtraction of; decreased by: Ten minus six is four.
lacking or without: a book minus its title page.



Origin of minus

1300–50; Middle English < Latin, neuter of minor less; see minor
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for minus

Contemporary Examples of minus

Historical Examples of minus

  • The "a" was misplaced, the "W" minus its lower right-hand corner.

    The Film of Fear

    Arnold Fredericks

  • Temperature: minus two hundred and twenty degrees Fahrenheit.

    Equation of Doom

    Gerald Vance

  • In 1783 he died the death of Diogenes, minus the wit of the cynic.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • O'Mally handed him the exact amount, minus the lira for the button.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

  • It is also called a "minus" glass, while the magnifying glass is called a "plus" glass.

    A Handbook of Health

    Woods Hutchinson

British Dictionary definitions for minus



reduced by the subtraction offour minus two (written 4 – 2)
informal deprived of; lackingminus the trimmings, that hat would be ordinary


  1. indicating or involving subtractiona minus sign
  2. Also: negativehaving a value or designating a quantity less than zeroa minus number
on the negative part of a scale or coordinate axisa value of minus 40°C
involving a disadvantage, harm, etca minus factor
(postpositive) education slightly below the standard of a particular gradehe received a B minus for his essay
botany designating the strain of a fungus that can only undergo sexual reproduction with a plus strain
denoting a negative electric charge


short for minus sign
a negative quantity
a disadvantage, loss, or deficit
informal something detrimental or negative
Mathematical symbol:

Word Origin for minus

C15: from Latin, neuter of minor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for minus

late 15c., "with subtraction of," from Latin minus "less," neuter of minor "smaller," from PIE *mi-nu-, suffixed form of root *mei- "small" (cf. Latin minuere "to diminish, reduce, lessen," Greek meion "less, smaller," Old English minsian "to diminish," Sanskrit miyate "diminishes, declines," Russian men'she "less").

Mathematical use in expressions of calculation did not exist in the word in classical Latin and is probably from North Sea medieval commercial usage of Latin plus and minus to indicate surplus or deficiency of weight or measure. Origin of the "minus sign" is disputed.


1650s, from minus (prep.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper