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[suh b-trakt] /səbˈtrækt/
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.
Origin of subtract
1530-40; < 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
Related forms
subtracter, noun
unsubtracted, adjective
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.
1–3. add. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for subtract
  • Negotiators spent several hours this week debating which items to add or subtract, but reached no conclusions.
  • Whether that would add or subtract from the confusion remains unclear.
  • Next, subtract the stock's price on the last trading day of the previous year to get what we'll call the gain.
  • Indeed, changes in valuation may subtract from future returns.
  • Imports subtract from measured output, so falling imports made for faster growth-but still signalled a weakening domestic economy.
  • subtract another percentage point or two for shoddy products that nobody wants to buy, piling up in warehouses.
  • If you subtract us from the mix, then it's down to a more reasonable amount of money.
  • Raise that probability to the power of the number of events, and subtract from one.
  • But it can take hours to subtract enough heat to chill a pitcher of tea or freeze ice cubes or ice cream.
  • By learning to add and subtract, they can learn how to count money, a vital tool in owning a business.
British Dictionary definitions for subtract


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
subtracter, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin subtractus withdrawn, from subtrahere to draw away from beneath, from sub- + trahere to draw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
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Word Origin and History for subtract

1540s, from Latin subtractus, past participle of subtrahere (see subtraction). Related: Subtracted; subtracting. Earlier verb form was subtraien (early 15c.).

Here he teches þe Craft how þou schalt know, whan þou hast subtrayd, wheþer þou hast wel ydo or no. ["Craft of Numbering," c.1425]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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