Definition of additive in English:



  • A substance added to something in small quantities to improve or preserve it.

    ‘many foods contain chemical additives’
    • ‘The finding was instrumental in getting lead additives banned from gasoline in that country.’
    • ‘Vine weevil, the gardener's worst enemy, is often properly controlled by chemical compost additives.’
    • ‘We eat convenience foods high in e-numbers, fats, carbohydrates, salts and additives.’
    • ‘Sometimes these additives can improve flavour, but obviously they can also detract from it.’
    • ‘She explained about the many additives used in foods these days and listed the healthiest fruit and vegetables we should eat.’
    • ‘Campaigners today called for clearer labelling of additives on food and drink products.’
    • ‘Imagine a company sneaking additives and preservatives into something you eat without telling you.’
    • ‘You can hardly complain about people who want to produce food uncontaminated by artificial chemicals and additives.’
    • ‘Evening primrose, wheat germ, and rose hip seed oils all make fine additives to this mask.’
    • ‘Some food allergies are not intrinsic to the food material but are actually related to chemical additives.’
    • ‘Natural additives like beer or lemon juice add benefits like body or shine.’
    • ‘Filtering drinking water to remove toxic copper, lead, pesticides, chloride and additives is also recommended.’
    • ‘One reason could be down to the fact that additives, colourings and preservatives are more prevalent in our food than ever.’
    • ‘Where it is available, aged manure is one of the best soil additives in preparing for roses.’
    • ‘If you have noted improved behavior, reintroduce one of the eliminated foods or additives at a time.’
    • ‘It's also an easy way to avoid artificial additives, pesticides and GM ingredients.’
    • ‘Tea or supper will not be a supermarket ready-meal full of additives, preservatives and artificial flavourings.’
    • ‘They are free of artificial preservatives, additives and colorings and taste great.’
    • ‘She said hyperactivity in children could stem from too many fizzy drinks and additives.’
    • ‘Most nail products contain chemicals and additives that can actually end up damaging your nails.’
    added ingredient, addition, extra, add-on, supplement, accompaniment
    preservative, flavour enhancer, colouring
    View synonyms


  • 1Characterized by, relating to, or produced by addition.

    ‘the combination of these factors has an additive effect’
    • ‘Research suggests that the different factors have an additive effect.’
    • ‘He attributes this to their clumsy numeration system, a hybrid of the Babylonian sexagesimal system and an additive system in which each letter of the Greek alphabet stood for one value.’
    • ‘Many problems in evolutionary biology involve evolution of traits controlled by multiple genes of approximately additive effect.’
    • ‘That is, cumulative discrimination may be more than an additive process in which the effects of discriminatory incidents sum over time to form larger and larger outcome disparities.’
    • ‘There was no significant advantage to any screening policy, and the addition of more screening tests did not produce an additive effect.’
    • ‘Judging by cases in which some apply but others do not, these three properties have roughly equal importance, and their effects are approximately additive.’
    • ‘It shows that the genetic variances and covariances contributed by the additive and dominance effects cannot be fully controlled in the model.’
    • ‘The new results include measurements of temperature and additive effects and kinetics modeling of the DPH curves.’
    • ‘When environmental factors also play a role in the development of a trait, the term multifactorial is used to refer to the additive effects of many genetic and environmental factors.’
    • ‘When combined in the ancestral background, the two mutations had an additive effect, leading to a net increase of 17% relative to the ancestor.’
    • ‘His fields of dots grew through a ruminative, additive process that is integral to their emotional tenor.’
    • ‘Zero is called the additive identity, because adding zero to a number will not change it: the number stays the same.’
    • ‘The period length of the double mutant strains was close to values predicted from assuming an additive or multiplicative effect from each mutation.’
    • ‘For both outcomes, Model A examined the simple additive effects and Model B examined the more complex interactions between the gender of the respondent and the source of support.’
    • ‘A third possibility is that structural position and self-monitoring may have relatively independent, additive effects on performance in organizations.’
    • ‘However, there does exists a set of parameter values that produce additive effects of stimulus quality.’
    • ‘These rates are greater than expected for additive or multiplicative effects of the single mutations.’
    • ‘Smoking and asthma had additive but not multiplicative effects on decline.’
    • ‘Our prediction, however, was based on a test statistic for additive effects only.’
    • ‘This result is opposite of what is expected if the fitness effects are additive or multiplicative.’
    1. 1.1technical Relating to the reproduction of colours by the superimposition of primary colours.
      ‘the video monitor uses the additive colours red, green, and blue’
      • ‘The artistic palette of colors, on the other hand, includes additive colors which include red, green and blue.’
      • ‘The three types of cones are often, and somewhat misleadingly, equated with Maxwell's additive primaries of red, blue, and green.’
      • ‘Another alternative is to have the additive colors in small containers and have the students dip the brush in to get a small amount.’
      • ‘That of a primary colour will be a mixture of the two other primaries: the additive complement of red is cyan, the subtractive complement is green.’


Late 17th century (as an adjective): from late Latin additivus, from Latin addit- added, from the verb addere (see add). The noun dates from the 1940s.