from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Producing or involving subtraction.
  • adj. Of or being a color produced by light passing through or reflecting off a colorant, such as a filter or pigment, that absorbs certain wavelengths and transmits or reflects others. See Table at color.
  • adj. Of or being any of the subtractive colors cyan, magenta, or yellow.
  • adj. Of or being a photographic process that produces a positive image by superposing or mixing substances that selectively absorb colored light.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to subtraction
  • adj. Describing a colour, from which some wavelengths have been removed

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Tending, or having power, to subtract.
  • adj. Having the negative sign, or sign minus.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Tending to subtract; having power to subtract.
  • In mathematics, having the minus sign (—).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. constituting or involving subtraction


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Whereas with pigment adding primaries together have the opposite effect, that is why it is referred to as subtractive color and light is referred to as additive color.

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  • This might also be called a subtractive model, and Wittgenstein captures this perfectly with a question:

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  • These are called subtractive colours, which are comprised of the wheel that we're likely all used to (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple).

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  • Its three color emulsion layers (with filter layers built in) and the complex "subtractive" process required to produce the image was ideal for dye-transfers.

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  • It's a kind of subtractive masculinity, where the only qualities that make a guy a Real Man are ones women do not display.

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  • Almost every Muslim demand is culturally destructive and 'subtractive' rather than 'additive'.

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  • A complex multilayer the substrate is immersed in an etching chem - The PCB-manufacturing process has PCB might have both blind vias (which ical, the excess copper is removed and only changed relatively little since then, are visible on only one side of the fi nished the desired circuit pattern remains. although three "subtractive" processes board) and buried vias (which aren't visible The problem with Eisler's idea was that have evolved to remove the copper to at all when the board is assembled).

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  • In general, I'm an additive writer rather than a subtractive one -- I write short, and then have to go back and fill in the holes and expand stuff and let white space in.

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  • I have a particular interest in the fluid nature of time, and the way travel, queuing, and even routing can play additive and subtractive games with this.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Perception of Time

  • Interestingly enough, I was surprised that carving, which is a subtractive art, taught me how to be an efficient writer.

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