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[ad-i-tiv] /ˈæd ɪ tɪv/
something that is added, as one substance to another, to alter or improve the general quality or to counteract undesirable properties:
an additive that thins paint.
  1. Also called food additive. a substance added directly to food during processing, as for preservation, coloring, or stabilization.
  2. something that becomes part of food or affects it as a result of packaging or processing, as debris or radiation.
characterized or produced by addition; cumulative:
an additive process.
Mathematics. (of a function) having the property that the function of the union or sum of two quantities is equal to the sum of the functional values of each quantity; linear.
Origin of additive
1690-1700; < Late Latin additīvus. See additament, -ive
Related forms
additively, adverb
interadditive, adjective
subadditive, adjective
subadditively, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for additive
  • Peat, another additive in many fertilizers, could actually contribute to global warming.
  • They can also serve as a beneficial additive to gardens and compost piles.
  • It is also used as an additive in unleaded gasoline.
  • So, an additive was put it in to try to disrupt that behavior.
  • Some studies show improved behavior among children placed on additive-free diets.
  • Machines act multiplicatively on labor while labor is only additive.
  • It is suspect as an additive source of lung-irritating particulates and cloud-forming haze.
  • Those who ate the additive that was harder to break down also reported that they felt fuller after the meal, the study says.
  • For stature, the additive variance is spread across too many loci for this model to be plausible.
  • These plots are measuring narrow sense heritability, which is the additive genetic variance over the phenotypic variance.
British Dictionary definitions for additive


characterized or produced by addition; cumulative
any substance added to something to improve it, prevent deterioration, etc
short for food additive
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin additīvus, from addere to add
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
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Word Origin and History for additive

1690s, "tending to be added," from Latin additivus "added, annexed," from past participle stem of addere (see addition).


"something that is added" to a chemical solution or food product, 1945, from additive (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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additive in Medicine

additive ad·di·tive (ād'ĭ-tĭv)
A substance added in small amounts to something else to improve, strengthen, or otherwise alter it.

ad'di·tive adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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additive in Science
Noun  A substance added in small amounts to something else to improve, strengthen, or otherwise alter it. Additives are used for a variety of reasons. They are added to food, for example, to enhance taste or color or to prevent spoilage. They are added to gasoline to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, and to plastics to enhance molding capability.

  1. Relating to the production of color by the mixing of light rays of varying wavelengths. ◇ The additive primaries red, green, and blue are those colors whose wavelengths can be mixed in different proportions to produce all other spectral colors. Compare subtractive. See Note at color.

  2. Mathematics Marked by, produced by, or involving addition.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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additive in Technology
A function f : X -> Y is additive if
for all Z f z : z in Z
(f "preserves lubs"). All additive functions defined over cpos are continuous.
("LaTeX as \subseteq, "lub" as \sqcup ).
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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