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Decrease vs. Increase: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on December 11, 2023
Decrease means to become smaller or less in quantity, size, or intensity, while increase means to become larger or greater in the same aspects.

Key Differences

Decrease refers to a reduction in quantity, size, or degree, whereas increase denotes a rise or growth in the same measures.
In economic terms, a decrease can mean falling profits, while an increase implies rising profits. In temperatures, a decrease means getting colder, and an increase means getting warmer.
In mathematics, a decrease is shown by subtracting from a quantity, while an increase is shown by adding to it.
A decrease in resources can lead to scarcity, while an increase might indicate abundance. In population studies, a decrease might raise concerns about aging demographics, whereas an increase might point to overpopulation issues.
Decrease is often associated with negative connotations like loss or decline, whereas increase is typically viewed positively, indicating growth or improvement.

Comparison Chart


To become smaller or less.
To become larger or more.

Mathematical Action

Subtraction from a quantity.
Addition to a quantity.

Economic Context

Falling profits or lower sales.
Rising profits or higher sales.

Physical Context

Reduction in size, volume, or amount.
Growth in size, volume, or amount.

Typical Connotation

Often negative (loss, decline).
Often positive (growth, gain).

Decrease and Increase Definitions


To make or become smaller or fewer in size, amount, intensity, or degree.
The company saw a decrease in sales last quarter.


To make or become greater in size, amount, intensity, or degree.
The company aims to increase its market share.


Lowering something in size or amount.
We need to decrease our expenses to save money.


A rise in quantity or rate.
There was an increase in temperature during the summer.


A reduction in quantity or rate.
There was a noticeable decrease in temperature overnight.


Augmenting something in size or amount.
We should increase our investments for better returns.


A downward trend in a statistical context.
The graph showed a steady decrease in pollution levels.


An upward trend in a statistical context.
The data showed a consistent increase in internet usage.


To diminish in strength or intensity.
The patient's pain should decrease with medication.


To grow in strength or intensity.
The wind is expected to increase by evening.


To become or cause to become less or smaller, as in number, amount, or intensity.


To become greater or larger.


The act or process of decreasing.


To multiply; reproduce.


What does decrease mean?

Decrease means a reduction in size, amount, or number.

Can decrease be used in a financial context?

Yes, like a decrease in profits or revenue.

What does increase mean?

Increase refers to a rise in size, amount, or number.

Is increase always related to quantity?

It can also relate to quality or intensity.

Do decrease and increase apply to physical changes?

Yes, like in temperature or weight.

Is increase always positive?

Not always, as it can be negative in some contexts, like an increase in crime.

What about increase in graphs?

As an upward slope or trend.

Can emotions decrease or increase?

Yes, emotions can intensify or lessen.

Can an increase lead to problems?

Yes, like overpopulation or resource depletion.

How is decrease shown in graphs?

Typically as a downward slope or trend.

Is a decrease in speed always good?

Not necessarily, context matters, like in emergency response.

Is decrease always noticeable?

Not always; it can be gradual or subtle.

Are increases always sustainable?

Sustainability depends on the context and resources.

Can technology decrease or increase efficiency?

Yes, it can impact efficiency in various ways.

Does decrease imply failure?

Not always; it can be strategic or natural.

Do decrease and increase apply to personal goals?

Yes, like in weight loss or learning a new skill.

Can decrease be temporary?

Yes, decreases can be temporary or permanent.

Can businesses use both terms strategically?

Yes, in planning and analyzing performance.

How do economies respond to increases?

Responses vary, from policy changes to market adjustments.

Can decrease be a goal?

Yes, like in reducing waste or emissions.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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