Definition of reduce in English:



  • 1Make smaller or less in amount, degree, or size.

    ‘the need for businesses to reduce costs’
    ‘the workforce has been reduced to some 6,100’
    • ‘He says it will cut red-tape for many businesses in Scotland and reduce their costs.’
    • ‘Maintaining the current workforce size but reducing the number of working hours across the board is not typically done.’
    • ‘The current focus is on risk management and reducing the costs of handling claims.’
    • ‘This vacuum not only holds products in place, it also compacts the package size, reducing the amount of space they take up in cartons.’
    • ‘By practicing sound risk management on a daily basis, you can reduce and eliminate potential accidents and injuries.’
    • ‘This reduces costs for both business and the Government.’
    • ‘This drastically reduces the cost and size of a tunable solution to the system vendor.’
    • ‘It is not surprising that Europeans are prepared to pay a considerable amount to reduce the risk of such a change.’
    • ‘These people are highly sensitive to carbohydrates and can't seem to lose any weight unless they severely reduce their carb intake.’
    • ‘They suggest that recovering patients reduce iron in their diet.’
    • ‘This teaches how you can permanently reduce you weight by reducing the carbohydrates you eat.’
    • ‘With this program, you can reduce bodyfat without losing hard-earned muscle.’
    • ‘A new one-piece case also reduces size and cost.’
    • ‘Employers gain a better-trained workforce and reduced search costs for new employees.’
    • ‘Using existing facilities and human resources can significantly reduce costs and security risks.’
    • ‘They have greatly reduced the size and cost of most electronic products, while at the same time increasing their power and versatility.’
    • ‘Young people considering setting up in business should look to reduce the risk involved as much as possible.’
    • ‘But what is being done to try and lower this risk and thus reduce the cost of car insurance for everyone?’
    • ‘The next car will be second hand and have a smaller engine to reduce fuel costs.’
    • ‘It also helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.’
    make cheaper, lower the price of, cut in price, lower in price, cheapen, cut, mark down, discount, put on sale, offer at a giveaway price
    lessen, make less, make smaller, lower, bring down, decrease, turn down, diminish, take the edge off, minimize
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    1. 1.1[no object]Become smaller or less in size, amount, or degree.
      ‘the number of priority homeless cases has reduced slightly’
      • ‘As they kept going, the amount of trees reduced, but she also noticed with her now keen senses that there were more animals as she heard more rustling sounds.’
      • ‘Follow-up scans confirmed this and showed that both tumours had reduced in size.’
      • ‘The most common form of under active thyroid occurs because the thyroid gland shrinks and gradually reduces or stops production of the thyroid hormones.’
      • ‘Instead the amount of the loan reduces with the depreciation of the sum lent, commonly at the rate of 4 % per annum for five years.’
      • ‘The branch network remains extensive, but it has reduced in size in recent years.’
      • ‘By the 14th treatment, the hand swelling had slightly reduced.’
      • ‘Before the end of his treatment a specialist at the Great Western Hospital's Osprey Unit said his tumour had reduced from the size of a melon to that of an orange.’
      • ‘Without appropriate training, most animal tissues reduce in size.’
      • ‘In the two decades since then, some of the hospitals have closed, and the number of long-stay patients has reduced dramatically.’
      • ‘Criminal damage reports also reduced, falling from 30 in June and July to 14 in August and September.’
      • ‘I looked over, and for the first time, I noticed that my belly had drastically reduced in size.’
      • ‘Since the launch of the police operation the group has reduced in size considerably.’
      • ‘Recent scans have shown that the tumour has reduced in size and appears to be less active.’
      • ‘Mortgage protection runs for the same length of time as the mortgage and the cover reduces from year to year as the loan amount repayable drops.’
      • ‘However, on the wheeled bin system the crew size reduces from four down to two loaders.’
      • ‘The report says that the amount of summertime rain will increase by 20% in the west while slightly reducing in the east.’
      • ‘Thereafter the slope weathers uniformly, maintaining its angle but reducing in size.’
      • ‘At the same time the number of senior managers has slightly reduced.’
      diminish, decrease, get smaller, become smaller, grow smaller, become less, grow less, lessen, wane, contract, shrink, fall off, taper off, tail off, drop, fall, go down, sink, slump, plummet
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    2. 1.2Boil (a sauce or other liquid) in cooking so that it becomes thicker and more concentrated.
      ‘increase the heat and reduce the liquid’
      • ‘Cook over medium heat, reducing the liquid by one-third to make a syrup.’
      • ‘Next, take out the lobsters, keep them warm and reduce the cooking liquid.’
      • ‘Add the vinegar, raise the heat to high, and cook one minute to reduce the liquid.’
      • ‘She reduced the cooking liquid in a saucepan and added more white wine and spices before serving.’
      • ‘Remove onions and set aside; reduce cooking liquid to a light syrup consistency.’
      • ‘Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and aromatic.’
      • ‘Season with a pinch of salt, add double cream, bubble for another minute or two, shaking the pan occasionally, until the sauce is reduced and nice and glossy.’
      • ‘Turn up the heat, reduce the liquid by bubbling down to 150 ml, then whisk in the remaining butter.’
      • ‘When the sauce is reduced, pour over the oxtail and reheat gently.’
      • ‘Add the wings back to the pan along with the chicken stock and tarragon and reduce the liquid by two thirds.’
      • ‘You can drink the stock as soup or reduce the cooking liquid by 3/4 for a few minutes to make a delicious light sauce.’
      • ‘Steep large prunes in dessert wine for a few hours, then reduce the liquid with a dollop of butter in a heavy based pan till caramel consistency.’
      • ‘If it is not, lift out the potatoes with a slotted spoon into a serving dish and reduce the sauce further by boiling.’
      • ‘Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, reducing the liquid to a syrupy consistency.’
      • ‘As soon as the sauce has reduced by half, swirl in the butter and a little finely chopped mint.’
    3. 1.3North American [no object](of a person) lose weight, typically by dieting.
      ‘by May she had reduced to 9 stone’
      • ‘Respondents were asked to name reasons why patients had not reduced, if they had not done so.’
    4. 1.4Photography Make (a negative or print) less dense.
      • ‘I have noted that the print is reduced considerably during this washing process, but usually regains its full tonal range in the fix.’
    5. 1.5Phonetics Articulate (a speech sound) in a way requiring less muscular effort, giving rise in vowels to a more central articulatory position.
  • 2Bring someone or something to (a worse or less desirable state or condition)

    ‘she has been reduced to near poverty’
    ‘the church was reduced to rubble’
    • ‘Both were reduced to pathetic caricatures of themselves by the height and steepness of the bunker face.’
    • ‘A large part of the Paradise Hotel was reduced to rubble and the rest was reduced to a smouldering shell.’
    • ‘By Sunday morning more than 300,000 buildings had disappeared and two-thirds of the city were reduced to smouldering ashes.’
    • ‘The family was distraught on Monday after a lifetime's possessions were reduced to ashes in just minutes.’
    • ‘Survivors pulled belongings out of their destroyed homes, some of which were reduced to piles of dust.’
    • ‘The rivers that were raging torrents as I crossed them last December were reduced to babbling brooks.’
    • ‘Their houses, shops and factories were reduced to ashes.’
    • ‘They'd be reduced to blubbering babies, begging for their lives.’
    • ‘They, who had had careers and their own money, were reduced to baby-sitters and had to ask their husbands for money.’
    • ‘Some houses were reduced to neat rectangles of foot-high rubble.’
    bring to, bring to the point of, force into, drive into
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    1. 2.1Be forced by difficult circumstances into doing something desperate.
      ‘ordinary soldiers are reduced to begging’
      • ‘Staff were ‘breaking down in tears of frustration’ as they were reduced to calculating cases on paper, MPs heard.’
      • ‘She and her sister stayed in Moscow where they were reduced to burning books for warmth.’
      • ‘Yet the group failed to produce any biological agent, and were reduced to poking bags with umbrellas to disseminate the sarin gas they were able to make.’
      • ‘The mounting pension crisis saw more and more elderly people reduced to selling their homes in order to survive.’
      • ‘Instead, the drug companies are reduced to producing slightly different versions of pre-existing products, which in the end is a zero-sum game.’
      • ‘Even the Germans, who had taken a lot of goals off Rangers in the semi-final and were a top side, were reduced to chasing shadows by the end.’
      • ‘After Owen's long-range gem, Patrik Berger struck from similar distance and Boro were reduced to chasing shadows from then on.’
    2. 2.2Make someone helpless with (shock, anguish, or amusement)
      ‘Olga was reduced to stunned silence’
      • ‘Hardened Royal Marines were reduced to tears yesterday as the funeral of Yorkshire war hero Christopher Maddison was held with full military honours.’
      • ‘It was quite remarkable: all of a sudden, thinking Australians were reduced to shrieks of joys when a colourful rag was unfurled, (even an outdated and clearly colonial-era one at that).’
      • ‘It was all too much for my uncle's sons who were reduced to pathetic sobs.’
      • ‘The audience of parents, grandparents, Godparents and families were reduced to helpless fits of giggles.’
      • ‘Apparently when American theatre audiences heard the song they were reduced to tears.’
      • ‘It had a shattering effect on those present and men and women, who normally take the dangers of racing in their stride, were reduced to tears.’
      • ‘But minutes later the same packed grandstands were reduced to tears after their ‘King’ had died in a most public way as he suffered a heart attack and collapsed, dying almost immediately.’
      • ‘Staff were reduced to tears when they surveyed the results at Redbridge Primary School.’
      • ‘Several other residents present have described the governors' behaviour as ‘obnoxious’, and some were reduced to tears.’
      • ‘Proving to be an ice-breaker, most of the class were reduced to fits of laughter.’
      • ‘At special test screenings, seven out of ten viewers were reduced to tears by the poignant, but simple messages portrayed in the film.’
    3. 2.3Force someone into (obedience or submission)
      ‘he reduced his grandees to due obedience’
      bring to, bring to the point of, force into, drive into
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  • 3Change a substance to (a different or more basic form)

    ‘it is difficult to understand how lava could have been reduced to dust’
    • ‘Next, days-old worker bees beat their wings to ventilate the open honeycombs, in order to reduce the substance to a purer sugar.’
    • ‘Alkaline hydrolysis or tissue digestion works by breaking apart the chemical bonds that hold proteins together, reducing them to their basic components.’
    1. 3.1Present a problem or subject in (a simplified form)
      ‘he reduces unimaginable statistics to manageable proportions’
      • ‘The complexities of the quality of social relationships would be reduced to such simplistic proxy variables.’
      • ‘To reduce these experiences to simplistic dichotomies and folk concepts erases the complexity of embodied experiences and the cultural logic that underpins them.’
      • ‘This is when a politician reduces a complex situation to a simplistic argument for the sole purpose of political gain.’
      • ‘It is easy to reduce arguments to simplistic ideas.’
      • ‘His designs reduced a natural subject to its essentials.’
      • ‘This is not only unsupported by the text, it also takes the mystery out of the play, reducing it to a simplistic piece of psychological realism.’
      • ‘He believes that he's forced to simplify and reduce facts to single statements.’
      • ‘Most science involves taking a large subject and reducing it to ever smaller, more precise questions.’
      • ‘To simplify our description, we can reduce it to the following steps.’
      • ‘He approaches the subject with thoroughness and a distinct effort to reduce its apparent complexity to simpler, actionable concepts.’
    2. 3.2Convert a fraction to (the form with the lowest terms).
      • ‘But Zu would know how to reduce fractions to their lowest terms by dividing top and bottom by the greatest common divisor.’
      • ‘There is no need to reduce the proper fractions to their lowest forms - Euclid's algorithm will still give the correct CF.’
  • 4Chemistry
    Cause to combine chemically with hydrogen.

    ‘hydrogen for reducing the carbon dioxide’
    1. 4.1Undergo or cause to undergo a reaction in which electrons are gained from another substance or molecule.
      [no object] ‘this compound reduces to potassium chloride’
      The opposite of oxidize
      [with object] ‘the arsenic is reduced to the trivalent condition’
      • ‘During these reactions, the molecule that donates the electron is oxidized and the molecule that accepts the electron is reduced.’
      • ‘Likewise, when an atom is reduced, it gains an electron and becomes more negative.’
      • ‘Reactions in which atoms of the same element are both oxidized and reduced are disproportionation reactions.’
  • 5Restore (a dislocated part of the body) to its proper position by manipulation or surgery.

    ‘Joe's reducing a dislocated thumb’
    • ‘Kocher's manoeuvre was attempted to reduce the dislocation.’
    • ‘The dislocation is reduced at the hospital in Taos, but there are so many broken bones that I'll need surgery.’
    • ‘The dislocation should be reduced as soon as possible.’
  • 6archaic Besiege and capture (a town or fortress).

    • ‘Fortresses were redesigned to take advantage of the defensive potential of modern firearms and techniques for besieging and reducing fortresses were refined.’
    • ‘Further, he set aside the likelihood that siege guns and time would reduce the fortress.’
    • ‘A couple of weeks was spent reducing the last major fortress to the south of Antioch, then Raymond led the army southward on 13 January 1099.’


  • reduced circumstances

    • Used euphemistically to refer to the state of being poor after being relatively wealthy.

      ‘a divorcee living in reduced circumstances’
      • ‘Having taken advantage of increased funding to become a full-time athlete, he now finds his reduced circumstances and changing priorities have affected his thinking.’
      • ‘How have you coped with your new, reduced circumstances?’
      • ‘Despite his seemingly reduced circumstances, Reid was still able to spend almost 3000 on a round-trip ticket from Paris via Miami and Antigua.’
      • ‘This told the story of a family struggling to survive in reduced circumstances after the father had been falsely imprisoned.’
      • ‘Don't get too depressed at your newly reduced circumstances.’
      • ‘It is a fact of life that the death of a husband or wife results in reduced circumstances for the surviving partner.’
      • ‘Instead he continued to try and make the kind of films he wanted to make, in reduced circumstances.’
      • ‘These were difficult years financially, and he never fully recovered from his reduced circumstances even after he moved back to New York in 1783.’
      • ‘However, many of these women were living in reduced circumstances, and in order to increase their productivity they were forced to enlist the help of their own children, which kept them out of school.’
      • ‘She now lives, in very reduced circumstances, with her son.’
      impoverished, in straitened circumstances, ruined, bankrupt, bankrupted, bust, insolvent
      poor, indigent, penurious, impecunious, in penury, moneyless, without a sou, as poor as a church mouse, poverty-stricken, destitute, necessitous
      needy, in need, in want, badly off, hard up, on one's beam-ends, unable to make ends meet, underprivileged
      on the breadline
      broke, flat broke, cleaned out, strapped for cash, strapped, on one's uppers
      stony broke, skint, without two pennies to rub together, without two farthings to rub together, without two brass farthings to rub together, in queer street
      stone broke
      pauperized, beggared
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  • reduce someone to the ranks

    • Demote a non-commissioned officer to an ordinary soldier.

      ‘the platoon consisted of ex-NCOs who had been reduced to the ranks for various offences’
      demote, downgrade, lower, lower in rank, lower in status
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Late Middle English: from Latin reducere, from re- back, again + ducere bring, lead. The original sense was ‘bring back’ (hence ‘restore’, now surviving in reduce); this led to ‘bring to a different state’, then ‘bring to a simpler or lower state’(hence reduce); and finally ‘diminish in size or amount’( reduce, dating from the late 18th century).