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[suh b-trak-shuh n] /səbˈtræk ʃən/
an act or instance of subtracting.
Mathematics. the operation or process of finding the difference between two numbers or quantities, denoted by a minus sign (−).
Origin of subtraction
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin subtractiōn- (stem of subtractiō) a withdrawing, equivalent to subtract(us) (see subtract) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
nonsubtraction, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for subtraction
  • None of this star subtraction would be possible without adaptive optics-a means of sharpening telescope images.
  • There are also simple addition and subtraction games.
  • And the circuit for moving eyes left does mental subtraction.
  • She also tested the monkeys' ability to do subtraction by covering a number of objects and then removing some of them.
  • And your falsification by subtraction has hardly been subjected to empirical rigor or indeed falsified all the possible forcing.
  • Some of the fibers deliberately sample blank sky for it subtraction.
  • Barbara made many contributions to my vocabulary, both by addition and by subtraction.
  • But the word mainly referred to mystics and deeply religious people entranced to the point of subtraction from the world.
British Dictionary definitions for subtraction


the act or process of subtracting
a mathematical operation in which the difference between two numbers or quantities is calculated. Usually indicated by the symbol (–)
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 subtraction

c.1400, "withdrawal, removal," from Late Latin subtractionem (nominative subtractio) "a drawing back, taking away," from past participle stem of Latin subtrahere "take away, draw off," from sub "from under" (see sub-) + trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (n.1)). The mathematical sense is attested from early 15c.

Þou most know þat subtraccion is drawynge of one nowmber oute of anoþer nomber. ["The Crafte of Nombrynge," c.1425]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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subtraction in Science
The operation of finding the difference between two numbers or quantities.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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