Definition of sum in English:



  • 1A particular amount of money.

    ‘they could not afford such a sum’
    • ‘That is because unlike in years past, buyers at this level can now borrow large sums in the form of mortgages.’
    • ‘Is it right to spend vast sums of money funding expensive conferences?’
    • ‘In addition to this sum, the loan borrowings of Stoneworth are guaranteed by often-maligned Fitzwilton.’
    • ‘The conman asks the person contacted to contribute a small sum of money to speed up the release of the funds.’
    • ‘Even higher risk are products such as derivatives where investors put up only a small margin of the overall investment amount but are liable for the total sum should the market move against them.’
    • ‘In addition to this sum, Alstom are to pay interest at 9% pa calculated in accordance with this decision.’
    • ‘Of course it also paid substantial sums to shareholders in the form of dividends and also paid rich salaries to its top executives.’
    • ‘It's not known how much all this has cost but the sum of $100 million has been bandied about.’
    • ‘In the meantime, on 25 July 2003 the respondent filed a summons seeking an order for security for costs in the sum of $80,000.’
    • ‘Visiting anglers pay large sums to fish such prime salmon beats but without offering privacy, proprietors will see little return on their investments.’
    • ‘I will order the appellant to pay costs in the sum of £4,500.’
    • ‘The upshot was it failed to set aside sufficient sums to cover its pension guarantees, in the event that economic conditions moved dramatically against the company.’
    • ‘In any event Mr Graham, it is a reasonable figure and I am going to order that your client pay the costs in the sum of £3,748.’
    • ‘So there will be an order for the payment of the claimant's costs in the sum of £12, 687.98.’
    • ‘By comparison, in the US, this sum amounts to 6 percent.’
    • ‘I consider in the absence of greater detail, and taking into account the applicant's status and ability to pay the costs, that the sum of £1500 is reasonable in the circumstances.’
    • ‘In 1997 the government paid out hefty sums to war veterans, a move that was blamed for putting a strain on the country's economy.’
    • ‘Through your generosity the sum of €870 was raised.’
    • ‘Most Japanese currently hold large sums of money in secure savings accounts that yield zero interest.’
    • ‘If it cannot prove that children from the most chaotic families arrive at the age of five ready to learn, future politicians will not be inclined to pay out large sums to keep it going.’
    amount, quantity, volume
    amount of money, price, charge, fee, cost, tariff
    View synonyms
  • 2the sum ofThe total amount resulting from the addition of two or more numbers, amounts, or items.

    ‘the sum of two prime numbers’
    • ‘This came out of an investigation he was carrying out into when a ternary quartic form could be represented as the sum of five fourth powers of linear forms.’
    • ‘He stated that any even integer can be written as the sum of two primes and every odd integer is either a prime or the sum of three primes.’
    • ‘Fermat had asked for a cube n such that the sum of the divisors of n is a square, and a square n such that the sum of the divisors of n is a cube.’
    • ‘If all three red edges get used, then the total cycle length is the sum of three even numbers, plus 3.’
    • ‘A perfect number is defined to be one which is equal to the sum of its aliquot parts.’
    • ‘In contrast, the sum of the reciprocals of all primes diverges.’
    • ‘Using these he was able to prove a weak form of the Goldbach's conjecture showing that every number is the sum of 20 primes.’
    • ‘Based on the evidence, it's reasonable to suppose that no whole number is the sum of more than nine cubes.’
    • ‘An odd perfect number is defined to be an odd integer that is equal to the sum of its proper divisors.’
    • ‘He also worked on number theory proving in 1770 that every positive integer is the sum of four squares.’
    • ‘Amicable numbers come in pairs in which each number is the sum of the proper divisors of the other.’
    • ‘If you win by getting rid of all of your cards, you score a bonus of 25 in addition to the sum of the points in the other players' hands.’
    • ‘Are there any bases where the Fibonacci numbers with a sum of their base B digits equal to their index numbers form an infinite series?’
    • ‘In fact the Egyptians only had fractions of this type and if the answer had not involved a unit fraction then the Egyptians would have written the fractional part as the sum of unit fractions.’
    • ‘It dealt with the sum of integrals of a given algebraic function.’
    • ‘Find a right triangle having the property that the hypotenuse equals the sum of one leg plus the altitude on the hypotenuse.’
    • ‘In it Vinogradov proved that every sufficiently large odd integer can be expressed as the sum of three primes.’
    • ‘As about 905% of the radiolabel was found in the soluble fraction, data given in the graph are the sum of both fractions.’
    • ‘A more careful analysis can be given to show that the sum of this series is 23.10345, to five decimal places.’
    • ‘The thesis contains a different proof of the fact just shown by Lefschetz that for any closed manifold the sum of the indices of a generic vector field is a topological invariant, namely the Euler characteristic.’
    total, sum total, grand total, tally, aggregate, summation, gross
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 The total amount of something that exists.
      ‘the sum of his own knowledge’
      • ‘Tipped to tumble, Motherwell now surf the wave of just one loss in six games thanks to an unexpected capacity to maximise the sum of their unremarkable talents and convert it resolutely into a winning equation.’
      • ‘The worse problem, as I see it, however, is not that people don't realize that choosing the lesser evil will increase the overall sum of evil; the problem is in people routinely choosing evils that they do not recognize to be evil.’
      • ‘Overall stress arises when an individual believes that the demands upon them exceed their perceived personal resources to meet the sum of their challenges within a given time frame.’
      • ‘A master brings the total sum of his experience, knowledge and training to his audience when he feels that the timing and expertise is in harmony with the message which he wishes to convey.’
      • ‘The Bellini is an idea not the sum of its content.’
      • ‘The band names it The Tipping Point, based on the Malcolm Gladwell book, expecting the sum of their good work since 1987 to finally push them to their own epidemic of success.’
      • ‘When a community of inquirers shares their information openly, the sum of their knowledge approaches the ideal of pragmatic truth.’
      • ‘Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales is committed to bringing the sum of all human knowledge to everybody on the planet.’
      • ‘Pork and the white man seems like an arbitrary summation of the sum of evil to me, but it's their story and they were sticking to it, stridently.’
      • ‘It's because critics of homosexuality just can't see the sum of human perfection that is gayness and all its works and ways.’
      entirety, totality, total, whole, aggregate, summation, beginning and end, alpha and omega, be-all and end-all
      View synonyms
  • 3An arithmetical problem, especially at an elementary level.

    ‘we did sums at school, Mummy’
    ‘do your sums, then the shock will not be too great’
    • ‘Unfortunately, bankers and investment analysts took it seriously - unable, it seems, to do simple sums.’
    • ‘Finally work out the left most sum in the same way and again place the resulting addition one place to the left under the 486.’
    • ‘Do your sums - it was what we found most surprising when we stopped owning a car a few years ago.’
    • ‘His philosophy of arithmetic captures little more than simple sums and differences, what is learned in elementary school.’
    • ‘She said: ‘I still have to do my sums and see if it is still a possibility for me.’’
    • ‘By programming it yourself for about half an hour you could actually get it to multiply two single figure sums together!’
    • ‘Let's look at the sums: what level of compensation do the labels, studios and artists need to make it worthwhile?’
    • ‘I need to do my sums carefully to ensure that I can afford a new property (and all the other connected costs) in the first place!’
    • ‘The reason, as the Doves found out, is simple: the sums simply don't add up for care home owners.’
    • ‘Unfortunately A level maths means that those kinds of normal sums are beyond me.’
    • ‘Inflation has fallen close to eurozone levels while the Budget sums are also pretty solid.’
    • ‘Dyscalculic children are born with an inability to do even the simplest sums.’
    • ‘And the integration of numbers and simple sums adds to the overall experience of the book.’
    • ‘His first job, when he was 18, was in an insurance company, meticulously recording sums and figures.’
    • ‘For some reason, they especially relate to sums and differences and multiples of 9.’
    • ‘They can go on to our website, do their sums, and they're ready to go.’
    • ‘Okay, so they can do their sums, but they still need to sharpen up on their cricket.’
    • ‘You saw crates of certain sizes, and then you would do your sums and then do your deductions from that.’
    • ‘Have you ever wondered why your children seem to do their sums upside-down nowadays?’
    • ‘Before committing to a tax-designated property investment, do your sums carefully.’
    arithmetical problem, problem, calculation, reckoning, tally, question
    View synonyms


[with object]technical
  • Find the sum of (two or more amounts)

    ‘if we sum these equations we obtain X’
    • ‘The mean proximal and distal cross-sectional area measurements for matched gracilis and semitendinosus tendon sets were summed to produce the total cross-sectional area of the four-strand grafts.’
    • ‘He found the length of an arc of the cycloid using an exhaustion proof based on dissections to reduce the problem to summing segments of chords of a circle which are in geometric progression.’
    • ‘Functional group abundance was calculated by summing the abundances of all species in a particular group on a sample date.’
    • ‘The sub-test results may be summed to produce a total score and the alpha coefficient reliability estimate for the sub-tests together in the present study was .66.’
    • ‘Subjects rate agreement with statements on a Likert scale, and responses for each item are summed to arrive at a total score.’
    • ‘The term on the left-hand side of Equation 7 is summed over all image distances.’
    • ‘Individual items are summed to yield a total score that can range from 0 to 40, representing the degree to which an individual resembles the prototypical psychopath.’
    • ‘Because the axes of the color measures are orthogonal, the three scores can be summed to yield a total composite color score.’
    • ‘Empirically, order is easily determined by summing the exponents of each concentration term in the rate equation for a reaction.’
    • ‘Because our survey effort was equal for each transect within a year, summing abundances over migration visits did not lead to spurious results.’
    • ‘A formula for the sum of n terms of this series can be obtained by the same method used for summing the ordinary geometric series.’
    • ‘In this addition sum each letter represents a digit, different letters being different digits.’
    • ‘But in many real-life games, pay-offs cannot easily be quantified and summed across the states visited.’
    • ‘The next result follows by summing the inequalities in equation.’
    • ‘The number of pixels in the area is summed, then the amount of bone in each pixel is calculated.’
    • ‘The amount of total non-structural carbohydrates was calculated by summing the amount of starch and soluble sugar.’
    • ‘Each information source score was calculated by summing the number of characteristics evaluated by that information source.’
    • ‘The neighbourhood sex ratio was determined by summing the number of males and females within the distance range of a plant for all adult individuals in each plot.’
    • ‘Each item is rated on a 5-point scale, and responses are summed to produce a total self-esteem score (negatively worded items are reversed scored before summing).’
    • ‘Centroid size was calculated by summing the squared distances from each of the 27 landmarks to a common centroid.’
    calculate, work out, total, sum, reckon, compute, enumerate, determine, evaluate, quantify, assess, count, add up, put a figure on, tally, totalize, gauge
    View synonyms


  • in sum

    • To sum up.

      ‘this interpretation does little, in sum, to add to our understanding’
      • ‘That, in sum, is the history of the American Church's relationship with the Holy See in the past 35 years.’
      • ‘There are, in sum, no comforting conclusions to be drawn any where.’
      • ‘So, in sum, if you like Musical Barbeque, you'll probably like this, and if you don't like Musical Barbeque, well, I'm not so sure I want you reading this blog, quite frankly.’
      • ‘We feel him as an unwitting misfit, slightly apart, unaware of what affection really is: in sum, lonely.’
      • ‘The dispute, in sum, turns on the Macedonian Orthodox Church right to be recognised as autocephalous, a status it unilaterally claimed for itself in 1967.’
      • ‘An attachment to your own country or nation or culture, in sum, doesn't have to be chauvinist.’
      • ‘If you believe in cultural relativism, or that crime should not be followed by punishment, or that our borders should be thrown open - in sum if you oppose traditional institutions and values - you are hardly in the mainstream.’
      • ‘In sum, rising unemployment levels are revealing the full recklessness of welfare reform.’
      • ‘In sum, the principal factors in the reduction of benefits in the coal sector were not the ones that are normally cited in dependency theory.’
      • ‘So in sum: yes, the blasé reaction to Wolff's article does reflect a moderating of stances on sexual harassment, but don't gloat about it; the pendulum is still very much on the left, no matter how much you might want it to be otherwise.’
      in short, briefly, in brief, to put it briefly, to cut a long story short, in a word, to sum up, in a nutshell, to come to the point, in essence, in outline
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • sum up

    • 1Give a brief summary.

      ‘Gerard will open the debate and I will sum up’
      • ‘This editorial in El Pais neatly sums up what's been revealed to date.’
      • ‘Stuart Herdson, Bradford secretary for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, sums up the criticisms.’
      • ‘The report sums up the first full investigation into concerns which a number of maritime organisations felt had been ignored.’
      • ‘Although this article by Andrew Oswald appeared in the Times some time ago it sums up most of the arguments why congestion charging is a good idea.’
      • ‘A brief conclusion does a fine job summing up the book and its arguments.’
      • ‘And those brief details sum up half a century in the life of Bobby Bell, so little is known about him.’
      • ‘Andrew Gimson in the Telegraph sums up precisely what this means for the election.’
      • ‘Propping his bicycle outside the Cheese Shop, Henry Smith sums up the views of many in the market town.’
      • ‘Lance Wright's closing remarks did not record well, so instead he agreed to sum up his points in an interview.’
      • ‘The benign, old Munshi sums up the topic with a short, wry remark, a telling commentary on the state of affairs.’
      • ‘Huntington sums up rather well the excesses that the chronic anger of the Left leads to.’
      • ‘The Lord Chancellor, in an outstanding speech summing up the two-day debate in the Lords, expressed the same view.’
      • ‘This comment precisely sums up what is expected of a historian when he writes down a narration or a report or a book.’
      • ‘To sum up… your record collection needs this record as much as you do.’
      • ‘The merest flick of her perfectly-manicured hands can sum up whatever idea she is trying to express.’
      • ‘It's a good little story because it sums up many of the personally satisfying things about working on the edition.’
      • ‘Jack Kelly sums up nicely why the coming war is moral, necessary, and can't come too soon.’
      • ‘It is just that the title of this post sums up today's happenings in a very good way.’
      • ‘It was a similar thought that inspired the faint glimmer of hope expressed at the end of Arthur Koestler's own bleak summing up of the contemporary situation.’
      • ‘A recent book about it entitled The Lost State of Franklin sums up the fate of the movement in its title.’
      summarize, give a summary of, make a summary of, precis, give an abstract of, encapsulate, outline, give an outline of, recap, recapitulate, review, put in a nutshell, condense, abridge, digest, synopsize, compress, give the gist
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1(of a judge) review the evidence at the end of a case and direct the jury regarding points of law.
        ‘he was summing up on day two of a historic test case’
        • ‘At the beginning of his summing up, he also directed the jury in standard terms as to the onus on the Crown.’
        • ‘It was therefore rather surprising to me when His Honour Judge Denison summed up to the jury that any military use would do.’
        • ‘Judge Russell then sums up the facts and the arguments presented to the jury.’
        • ‘As the learned judge said in his summing up to the jury, motive is irrelevant; intention is important.’
        • ‘Perhaps if I could draw your Honours' attention to page 13 of the application book, paragraph 45, where the crucial nature of this issue was summed up by the learned trial judge.’
        summarize the evidence, review the evidence, give a summing-up, summarize the argument
        View synonyms
  • sum someone/something up

    • Concisely describe of the nature or character of someone or something.

      ‘selfish—that summed her up’
      • ‘However, she hopes she would be more realistic than Ranevskaya, though she likes her character, summing her up as ‘complex, vulnerable, selfish, very flawed, hopefully charming but emotionally all over the shop’.’
      • ‘Before I visited the Netherlands, all my images of this small country could be summed up in just four words which you probably have in your mind too: windmills, clogs, cheese and tulips.’
      • ‘In large measure, the answer can be summed up with one word: media.’
      • ‘Predictably, Yanevski has proved to be a huge hit on the forum; the postings by most fans can be summed up in four words: ‘He is so cool!’’
      • ‘These characteristics can be summed up as elegance, if you want just one word, but their real character is drinkability.’
      • ‘In the Bible this faithfulness is summed up in the word covenant.’
      • ‘The Telegraph editorial summed it up with the words ‘Sanctimonious Claptrap’ and that is exactly what it was.’
      • ‘Frankly, I think the biggest difference between the two can be summed up in one word: synthesizers.’
      • ‘Today's reforms can be summed up in one word: freedom.’
      • ‘Asked to describe Armenian music, Montreal singer Lousnak sums it up in a single word.’
      • ‘But the reason Indian Idol outshines any other shows of the same kind can be summed up in one word: involvement.’
      • ‘The problem facing the abolitionists can be summed up in one word: sugar.’
      • ‘When I asked him his thoughts on the subject he summed them up by describing his profession as ‘pigs at the trough’.’
      • ‘The most common measures can be summed up in one word - ‘RICE’ which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.’
      • ‘Yet the political atmosphere in this once-feisty town can be summed up in one word: indifference.’
      • ‘Asked to sum them up in one word, he suggests ‘pleasure-seeking’, which manifests itself in conspicuous enjoyment of food and drink and fashion, a sincere appreciation of the arts, and a relaxed attitude to sex.’
      • ‘York's attitude to young people could be summed up in two words: whipper snappers.’
      • ‘We have a few suggestions that might work and they can be summed up in one word: layering.’
      • ‘The guiding doctrine which ran through his thinking is summed up by the word ‘equality’.’
      • ‘The difference between the two sides can be summed up in one word - talent.’
      evaluate, assess, appraise, value, rate, weigh up, gauge, judge, deem, adjudge, estimate, form an opinion of, form an impression of, make one's mind up about, get the measure of, form a judgement of, make something of
      View synonyms


Middle English: via Old French from Latin summa ‘main part, sum total’, feminine of summus ‘highest’.