Other forms: reduced; reducing; reduces

You reduce something when you lessen its volume, size, or degree. That's why we say when someone goes on a diet, it's because they want to reduce; it's a polite way of suggesting they need to drop pounds and become a smaller size.

The word reduce first appeared in Old French during the 14th Century, when it meant "bring back." From the Latin re, which meant "back," coupled with ducere, meaning "bring or lead" — we ended up with reduce. The current meaning, "to lessen," appeared in the late 1700's, drawn from the word's military use, "reduce to ranks," which meant break into smaller units. Cooks use the word reduce when they reduce a liquid, boiling it down until it has less volume and is thicker.

Definitions of reduce
  1. verb
    make smaller
    reduce an image”
    synonyms: scale down
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    blow up, enlarge, magnify
    make large
    type of:
    reduce in size; reduce physically
  2. verb
    reduce in size; reduce physically
    synonyms: shrink
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    scale down
    make smaller
    reduce (a sail) by taking in a reef
    miniaturise, miniaturize
    design or construct on a smaller scale
    depopulate, desolate
    reduce in population
    make in a smaller size
    make smaller
    purse, wrinkle
    gather or contract into wrinkles or folds; pucker
    type of:
    decrease, lessen, minify
    make smaller
  3. verb
    take off weight
    synonyms: lose weight, melt off, slenderize, slim, slim down, thin
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    gain, put on
    increase (one's body weight)
    sweat off
    lose weight by sweating
    type of:
    change state, turn
    undergo a transformation or a change of position or action
  4. verb
    cut down on; make a reduction in
    reduce your daily fat intake”
    synonyms: bring down, cut, cut back, cut down, trim, trim back, trim down
    have a reducing effect
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    make shorter than originally intended; reduce or retrench in length or duration
    reduce the pressure of wind on (a sail)
    reduce the degree of (luminescence or phosphorescence) in (excited molecules or a material) by adding a suitable substance
    make a reduction, as in one's workforce
    cut drastically
    thin out
    make sparse
    make thin or thinner
    detract, take away
    take away a part from; diminish
    reduce or cut back the amount or availability of, creating a decline in value or prices
    increase the amount or availability of, creating a rise in value
    reduce in size or number
    take off or away
    knock off, shave
    cut the price of
    shorten lines in a drawing so as to create an illusion of depth
    clip, curtail, cut short
    terminate or abbreviate before its intended or proper end or its full extent
    omit a sound or letter in a word
    cut short, truncate
    make shorter as if by cutting off
    reduce the diameter of (a wire or metal rod) by pulling it through a die
    clip, crop, cut back, dress, lop, prune, snip, trim
    cultivate, tend, and cut back the growth of
    mark down
    reduce the price of
    type of:
    decrease, lessen, minify
    make smaller
  5. verb
    narrow or limit
    reduce the influx of foreigners”
    synonyms: tighten
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    type of:
    bound, confine, limit, restrain, restrict, throttle, trammel
    place limits on (extent or access)
  6. verb
    reduce in scope while retaining essential elements
    synonyms: abbreviate, abridge, contract, cut, foreshorten, shorten
    cut, edit, edit out
    cut and assemble the components of
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    dilate, elaborate, enlarge, expand, expatiate, exposit, expound, flesh out, lucubrate
    add details, as to an account or idea; clarify the meaning of and discourse in a learned way, usually in writing
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    bowdlerise, bowdlerize, castrate, expurgate, shorten
    edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate
    concentrate, condense, digest
    make more concise
    capsule, capsulise, capsulize, encapsulate
    put in a short or concise form; reduce in volume
    make smaller or shorter
    type of:
    decrease, lessen, minify
    make smaller
  7. verb
    lessen and make more modest
    reduce one's standard of living”
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    type of:
    make poor
  8. verb
    destress and thus weaken a sound when pronouncing it
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    reduce a vowel to a neutral one, such as a schwa
    type of:
    de-emphasise, de-emphasize, destress
    reduce the emphasis
  9. verb
    lessen the strength or flavor of a solution or mixture
    synonyms: cut, dilute, thin, thin out
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    water down
    make less strong or intense
    type of:
    lessen the strength of
  10. verb
    make less complex
    reduce a problem to a single question”
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    type of:
    make simpler or easier or reduce in complexity or extent
  11. verb
    be the essential element
    synonyms: boil down, come down
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    type of:
    become, turn
    undergo a change or development
  12. verb
    simplify the form of a mathematical equation of expression by substituting one term for another
    synonyms: simplify
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    type of:
    exchange, interchange, replace, substitute
    put in the place of another; switch seemingly equivalent items
  13. verb
    bring to humbler or weaker state or condition
    “He reduced the population to slavery”
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    type of:
    break, bump, demote, kick downstairs, relegate
    assign to a lower position; reduce in rank
  14. verb
    lower in grade or rank or force somebody into an undignified situation
    “She reduced her niece to a servant”
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    type of:
    degrade, demean, disgrace, put down, take down
    reduce in worth or character, usually verbally
  15. verb
    put down by force or intimidation
    synonyms: keep down, quash, repress, subdue, subjugate
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    type of:
    crush, oppress, suppress
    come down on or keep down by unjust use of one's authority
  16. verb
    cook until very little liquid is left
    “The cook reduced the sauce by boiling it for a long time”
    synonyms: boil down, concentrate
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    type of:
    decrease, lessen, minify
    make smaller
  17. verb
    be cooked until very little liquid is left
    “The sauce should reduce to one cup”
    synonyms: boil down, concentrate, decoct
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    type of:
    decrease, diminish, fall, lessen
    decrease in size, extent, or range
  18. verb
    to remove oxygen from a compound, or cause to react with hydrogen or form a hydride, or to undergo an increase in the number of electrons
    synonyms: deoxidise, deoxidize
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    oxidate, oxidise, oxidize
    add oxygen to or combine with oxygen
    oxidate, oxidise, oxidize
    enter into a combination with oxygen or become converted into an oxide
    become coated with oxide
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    subject to a reduction process
    deoxidize molten metals by stirring them with a wooden pole
    type of:
    undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature
  19. verb
    undergo meiosis
    “The cells reduce
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    type of:
    divide, part, separate
    come apart
  20. verb
    reposition (a broken bone after surgery) back to its normal site
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    type of:
    place into another position




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