In math, when you subtract, you take one number away from another. If you subtract four from ten, you're left with six. You can also use subtract to mean "take away" in a more general sense, as in "If you subtract some of the salt from the recipe, the pasta will be healthier."

When you're doing math, you know you're supposed to subtract if you see a minus sign. Subtracting gives you the difference between numbers, and you can see this in a real way when you subtract actual objects instead of numbers. If you have a dozen cupcakes and subtract ten of them, you have only two cupcakes left. The Latin root of subtract is subtrahere, "take away or draw off."

Definitions of subtract
  1. verb
    make a subtraction
    subtract this amount from my paycheck”
    synonyms: deduct, take off
    see moresee less
    add, add together
    make an addition by combining numbers
    add, add together, add up, sum, sum up, summate, tally, tot, tot up, total, tote up
    determine the sum of
    show more antonyms...
    carry back
    deduct a loss or an unused credit from taxable income for a prior period
    type of:
    calculate, cipher, compute, cypher, figure, reckon, work out
    make a mathematical calculation or computation
  2. verb
    take off or away
    “this prefix was subtracted when the word was borrowed from French”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    bring down, cut, cut back, cut down, reduce, trim, trim back, trim down
    cut down on; make a reduction in
Word Family

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