[ suhb-trakt ]
/ səbˈtrækt /
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See synonyms for: subtract / subtracted / subtracting on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to withdraw or take away, as a part from a whole.
Mathematics. to take (one number or quantity) from another; deduct.
verb (used without object)
to take away something or a part, as from a whole.
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Origin of subtract

First recorded in 1530–40; from Latin subtractus (past participle of subtrahere “to draw away from underneath”), equivalent to sub-sub- + trac- (past participle stem of trahere “to draw”) + -tus past participle suffix

synonym study for subtract

1, 3. Subtract, deduct express diminution in sum or quantity. To subtract suggests taking a part from a whole or a smaller from a larger: to subtract the tax from one's salary. To deduct is to take away an amount or quantity from an aggregate or total so as to lessen or lower it: to deduct a discount. Subtract is both transitive and intransitive, and has general or figurative uses; deduct is always transitive and usually concrete and practical in application.


sub·tract·er, nounun·sub·tract·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does subtract mean?

Subtract means to take something away, usually as in taking a piece out of a whole.

In math, subtract means to perform subtraction, the operation in which you find difference between two numbers or quantities.

You can subtract one thing from another, as in We need to subtract the cost of labor from our total profits.

You can also subtract something without mentioning what you’re subtracting it from, as in If you subtract the busy traffic, my day wasn’t that bad. In other words, when you consider everything in my day, except for the traffic it wasn’t a bad day.

For the most part, subtract usually refers to taking a small piece away from a bigger whole. However, subtracting can potentially result in negative amounts or debts when you’re subtracting numbers.

When you first learned subtraction, your teacher might have said that when we subtract, we are “taking away” one number from another. For example, if you subtract 3 from 5, you take away 3 from 5, which leaves you with 2.

Example: I need to remember to subtract my electric bill from my monthly budget.

Where does subtract  come from?

The first records of subtract come from around 1530. It comes from the Latin verb subtrahere, meaning “to draw away from underneath.”

Subtracting numbers is one of the first operations we learn in math. Even very large numbers can be subtracted quickly by separating out numbers into columns of smaller units.

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What are some other forms related to subtract?

What are some synonyms for subtract?

What are some words that share a root or word element with subtract

What are some words that often get used in discussing subtract?

How is subtract used in real life?

Subtract is a common word that means to take something away or to perform subtraction.

Try using subtract!

True or False?

To subtract something, you add it to something else.

How to use subtract in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for subtract

/ (səbˈtrækt) /

to calculate the difference between (two numbers or quantities) by subtraction
to remove (a part of a thing, quantity, etc) from the whole

Derived forms of subtract

subtracter, noun

Word Origin for subtract

C16: from Latin subtractus withdrawn, from subtrahere to draw away from beneath, from sub- + trahere to draw
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