[ suh b-trak-tiv ]
/ səbˈtræk tɪv /


tending to subtract; having power to subtract.
Mathematics. (of a quantity) that is to be subtracted; having the minus sign (−).

Origin of subtractive

First recorded in 1680–90; subtract + -ive

Related forms

non·sub·trac·tive, adjectivenon·sub·trac·tive·ly, adverbun·sub·trac·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subtractive

British Dictionary definitions for subtractive


/ (səbˈtræktɪv) /


able or tending to remove or subtract
indicating or requiring subtraction; having a minus sign–x is a subtractive quantity
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

Science definitions for subtractive


[ səb-trăktĭv ]

Relating to the production of color by the blocking or removal of varying wavelengths, as with colored filters, or by the mixing of pigments that absorb certain wavelengths and reflect others.♦ The subtractive primaries cyan, magenta, and yellow are those colors whose wavelengths can be filtered or absorbed in different proportions to produce all other colors. Compare additive. See Note at color.
Marked by or involving subtraction.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.