minus (prep., adj., adv.)

late 15c., "with subtraction of," from Latin minus "less," neuter of minor "smaller" (from PIE *mi-nu-, suffixed form of root *mei- (2) "small").

According to OED, this mathematical prepositional use in expressions of calculation was not in the classical Latin word and probably is from North Sea medieval commercial usage of Latin plus and minus to indicate surplus or deficiency of weight or measure.

The origin and original signification of the "minus sign" is disputed. As "deprived of, not having," by 1813. Of temperature, etc., "below 0 or the lowest point of positive reckoning, belonging to the inverse or negative side," by 1811.

minus (n.)

1650s, "the minus sign," from minus (prep.). From 1708 as "a negative quantity, a quantity subtracted."

updated on April 20, 2021

Definitions of minus from WordNet
minus (adj.)
on the negative side or lower end of a scale;
a grade of B minus
minus 5 degrees
minus (adj.)
involving disadvantage or harm;
minus (or negative) factors
Synonyms: negative
minus (n.)
an arithmetic operation in which the difference between two numbers is calculated;
four minus three equals one
Synonyms: subtraction
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