late 14c., "bring back," from Old French reducer (14c.), from Latin reducere "lead back, bring back," figuratively "restore, replace," from re- "back" (see re-) + ducere "bring, lead," from PIE root *deuk- "to lead." Meaning "bring to an inferior condition" is 1570s; that of "bring to a lower rank" is 1640s (military reduce to ranks is from 1802); that of "subdue by force of arms" is 1610s. Sense of "to lower, diminish, lessen" is from 1787. Related: Reduced; reducing.
reductio ad absurdum
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