Definition of reduce in English:


Syllabification: re·duce
Pronunciation: /riˈd(y)o͞os


[with object]
  • 1Make smaller or less in amount, degree, or size: the need for businesses to reduce costs the workforce has been reduced to some 6,100 (as adjective reduced) a reduced risk of coronary disease
    More example sentences
    • A new one-piece case also reduces size and cost.
    • This drastically reduces the cost and size of a tunable solution to the system vendor.
    • It is not surprising that Europeans are prepared to pay a considerable amount to reduce the risk of such a change.
    lessen, make smaller, lower, bring down, decrease, diminish, minimize; shrink, narrow, contract, shorten; ax, cut, cut back/down, make cutbacks in, trim, curtail, slim (down), prune
    informal chop
    discount, mark down, lower the price of, cut, cut in price, make cheaper, put on sale
    informal slash, knock down
  • 1.1 [no object] Become smaller or less in size, amount, or degree: the number of priority homeless cases has reduced slightly
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    • At the same time the number of senior managers has slightly reduced.
    • The report says that the amount of summertime rain will increase by 20% in the west while slightly reducing in the east.
    • By the 14th treatment, the hand swelling had slightly reduced.
  • 1.2Boil (a sauce or other liquid) in cooking so that it becomes thicker and more concentrated.
    More example sentences
    • She reduced the cooking liquid in a saucepan and added more white wine and spices before serving.
    • Next, take out the lobsters, keep them warm and reduce the cooking liquid.
    • Remove onions and set aside; reduce cooking liquid to a light syrup consistency.
  • 1.3 [no object] chiefly North American (Of a person) lose weight, typically by dieting: by May she had reduced to 125 pounds
    More example sentences
    • Respondents were asked to name reasons why patients had not reduced, if they had not done so.
  • 1.4 archaic Conquer (a place), in particular besiege and capture (a town or fortress).
    More example sentences
    • Fortresses were redesigned to take advantage of the defensive potential of modern firearms and techniques for besieging and reducing fortresses were refined.
    • Further, he set aside the likelihood that siege guns and time would reduce the fortress.
    • A couple of weeks was spent reducing the last major fortress to the south of Antioch, then Raymond led the army southward on 13 January 1099.
  • 1.5 Photography Make (a negative or print) less dense.
    More example sentences
    • I have noted that the print is reduced considerably during this washing process, but usually regains its full tonal range in the fix.
  • 1.6 Phonetics Articulate (a speech sound) in a way requiring less muscular effort. In vowels, this gives rise to a more central articulatory position.
  • 2 (reduce someone/something to) Bring someone or something to (a lower or weaker state, condition, or role): she has been reduced to near poverty the church was reduced to rubble
    More example sentences
    • A large part of the Paradise Hotel was reduced to rubble and the rest was reduced to a smouldering shell.
    • They'd be reduced to blubbering babies, begging for their lives.
    • Their houses, shops and factories were reduced to ashes.
    bring to, bring to the point of, drive to
  • 2.1 (be reduced to doing something) (Of a person) be forced by difficult circumstances into doing something desperate: ordinary soldiers are reduced to begging
    More example sentences
    • She and her sister stayed in Moscow where they were reduced to burning books for warmth.
    • Yet the group failed to produce any biological agent, and were reduced to poking bags with umbrellas to disseminate the sarin gas they were able to make.
    • After Owen's long-range gem, Patrik Berger struck from similar distance and Boro were reduced to chasing shadows from then on.
  • 2.2Make someone helpless with (an expression of emotion, especially with hurt, shock, or amusement): Olga was reduced to stunned silence
    More example sentences
    • Hardened Royal Marines were reduced to tears yesterday as the funeral of Yorkshire war hero Christopher Maddison was held with full military honours.
    • It had a shattering effect on those present and men and women, who normally take the dangers of racing in their stride, were reduced to tears.
    • At special test screenings, seven out of ten viewers were reduced to tears by the poignant, but simple messages portrayed in the film.
  • 2.3Force into (obedience or submission): he succeeds in reducing his grandees to due obedience
  • 3 (reduce something to) Change a substance to (a different or more basic form): it is difficult to understand how lava could have been reduced to dust
    More example sentences
    • Next, days-old worker bees beat their wings to ventilate the open honeycombs, in order to reduce the substance to a purer sugar.
    • Alkaline hydrolysis or tissue digestion works by breaking apart the chemical bonds that hold proteins together, reducing them to their basic components.
  • 3.1Present a problem or subject in (a simplified form): he reduces unimaginable statistics to manageable proportions
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    • Most science involves taking a large subject and reducing it to ever smaller, more precise questions.
    • He believes that he's forced to simplify and reduce facts to single statements.
    • His designs reduced a natural subject to its essentials.
  • 3.2Convert a fraction to (the form with the lowest terms).
    More example sentences
    • There is no need to reduce the proper fractions to their lowest forms - Euclid's algorithm will still give the correct CF.
    • But Zu would know how to reduce fractions to their lowest terms by dividing top and bottom by the greatest common divisor.
  • 4 Chemistry Cause to combine chemically with hydrogen.
  • 4.1Undergo or cause to undergo a reaction in which electrons are gained by one atom from another. The opposite of oxidize.
    More example sentences
    • Likewise, when an atom is reduced, it gains an electron and becomes more negative.
    • Reactions in which atoms of the same element are both oxidized and reduced are disproportionation reactions.
    • During these reactions, the molecule that donates the electron is oxidized and the molecule that accepts the electron is reduced.
  • 5Restore (a dislocated part) to its proper position by manipulation or surgery.
    More example sentences
    • The dislocation is reduced at the hospital in Taos, but there are so many broken bones that I'll need surgery.
    • Kocher's manoeuvre was attempted to reduce the dislocation.
    • The dislocation should be reduced as soon as possible.
  • 5.1Remedy (a dislocation) by manipulation or surgery.
    More example sentences
    • Digital nerve block followed by hyperextension and longitudinal traction successfully reduces the dislocation.


reduced circumstances

Used euphemistically to refer to the state of being poor after being relatively wealthy: a divorcee living in reduced circumstances
More example sentences
  • It is a fact of life that the death of a husband or wife results in reduced circumstances for the surviving partner.
  • Despite his seemingly reduced circumstances, Reid was still able to spend almost 3000 on a round-trip ticket from Paris via Miami and Antigua.
  • Having taken advantage of increased funding to become a full-time athlete, he now finds his reduced circumstances and changing priorities have affected his thinking.
impoverished, broke, in straitened circumstances, ruined, bankrupted; poor, indigent, impecunious, in penury, poverty-stricken, destitute; needy, badly off, hard up
informal without two cents to rub together, strapped for cash
formal penurious

reduce someone to the ranks

Demote a noncommissioned officer to an ordinary soldier.
More example sentencesSynonyms
demote, downgrade, bring low, lower, lower in rank



More example sentences
  • The environmental noise reducer is aimed at industry as well as individuals and the industrial version, for use in factories, could cost £10,000.
  • In addition, some water reducers increase air content.
  • The most effective combinations include at least two antibiotics plus the acid reducers.


late Middle English: from Latin reducere, from re- 'back, again' + ducere 'bring, lead'. The original sense was 'bring back' (hence 'restore', now surviving in sense 5); this led to 'bring to a different state', then 'bring to a simpler or lower state' ( sense 3); and finally 'diminish in size or amount' ( sense 1, dating from the late 18th century).

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