Definition of subtract in English:



  • 1 Take away (a number or amount) from another to calculate the difference.

    ‘subtract 43 from 60’
    • ‘Then by subtracting his count from the clock reading, he has the time at which the observation was made.’
    • ‘In first grade my teachers taught me how to add and subtract big numbers.’
    • ‘Not only does the game add and subtract a number of different fields to generate a final total for a race, you can easily spend half a minute or more just watching the game tally up the number of mistakes you made.’
    • ‘Compliance was determined by subtracting the number of capsules returned by the subject at the final visit from the number of capsules dispensed at the outset of the study.’
    • ‘Net income was calculated by first subtracting each enterprise's total expenses from the total revenue.’
    • ‘The Red Sox in the 1970s had a system based on numerical values, requiring players to add and subtract the number of touches by a coach to determine the play.’
    • ‘The overconfidence indices were calculated by subtracting the percentage of correct answers from the mean percentage of certainty.’
    • ‘On standard problems, solutions were coded as covert when the child simply added or subtracted the correct number of chips in a single operation.’
    • ‘For example, gross margin equals cost of sales subtracted from revenue.’
    • ‘How do you count, add, and subtract in different bases?’
    • ‘So to get the correct figure, we have to subtract the number of days when it was both.’
    • ‘Profits are amounts that are calculated based on subtracting what something cost to make from what it grosses.’
    • ‘Mikhail can spell words such as elephant, and add and subtract four-digit numbers, and is learning multiplication.’
    • ‘But when you fill out the worksheet, you must subtract the amount of your payment before those deductions, known as offsets.’
    • ‘Dollar amounts were calculated by subtracting the rework cost from the Navy stock number ‘ready-for-issue’ value.’
    • ‘To calculate the female population size, I subtracted the number of males from the estimated population size for both sexes.’
    • ‘The hemicellulose content was determined by subtracting the amount of cellulose from that of the holocellulose sample.’
    • ‘The index is calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents holding a positive outlook from the percentage of those with a negative outlook.’
    • ‘Now, all that simple arithmetic simply means that you add 50 to your chosen number, then you subtract the chosen number!’
    • ‘The amount of protein was then determined by subtracting the amount of salt from the dry weight of the lyophilized sample.’
    take away, take from, take off, deduct, debit, abstract, discount, dock, remove, withdraw
    knock off, minus
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Take away (something) from something else so as to decrease the size, number, or amount.
      ‘programs were added and subtracted as called for’
      • ‘Men were subtracted or added to industry, agriculture, or the armed forces on the basis of skills and experience.’
      • ‘These scenarios can be tailored to increase or decrease the level of difficulty by adding or subtracting additional targets and changing conditions.’
      • ‘You can always add or subtract calories as needed.’
      • ‘Some would prefer politics to stick to safer ground, forever debating whether we should add or subtract a penny in the pound from income tax.’
      • ‘Add or subtract a piece or two according to season or whim.’
      • ‘By adding and subtracting methyl groups, the two enzymes can adjust receptor sensitivity to mitigate the effect of ligand binding.’
      • ‘Always adding rooms and never subtracting them will just make the place bigger - not necessarily better.’
      • ‘It is therefore forbidden to add or subtract any commandments from the Torah.’
      • ‘You can modify this list by adding or subtracting items to better suit your group of friends.’
      • ‘Tonal language allied to a myriad disciplines adding or subtracting elements continues to thrive with no apparent plot to destroy it or make it illegal.’
      • ‘In fact, it may not have had an author, because people added and subtracted stanzas and modified phrasing as they pleased.’
      • ‘Wear clothing in layers so you can add or subtract items to prevent chills or sweating.’
      • ‘It is also about balancing the acoustics, ensuring that the furnishings of the place add to the atmosphere by subtracting unattractive noise.’
      • ‘This would require subtracting color which is iffy in the best of textile situations.’
      • ‘Are you planning on adding or subtracting products from the current lines you are handling or developing?’
      • ‘The years are beginning to follow into a pattern, wavering as we continue to add and subtract elements of our business and our lives, but growing more distinct all the time.’
      • ‘Use gloved hands and a small trowel to add or subtract rock dust as needed to make sure each stone is at precisely the right height.’
      • ‘A hand shot out to grab one of them; he began to add and subtract various pieces, experimenting with tensile strength and durability.’
      • ‘With improv, you're adding and subtracting things as you go, more haphazard, exciting.’
      • ‘Wearing several layers - like a T-shirt, sweatshirt, and robe - makes it easy to add or subtract clothes as needed.’


Mid 16th century: from Latin subtract- drawn away, from sub- from below + trahere to draw.