Reduce vs. Decrease: What's the Difference?
Reduce means to make something smaller in size, amount, or extent, usually with intent, while decrease refers to the process of diminishing in size, amount, or extent, possibly without intent.
Reduce and decrease, while similar, imply subtle variations in their usage and context. The term reduce often involves an element of intent or deliberate action, often denoting an active effort to bring down the quantity, size, or degree of something. It can also carry a broader sense, referring to simplifying or breaking down into components. On the other hand, decrease typically describes the process or result of diminishing and may not necessarily involve intentional action. It can occur naturally or as a result of other influences and generally signifies a reduction in size, amount, number, or extent.
In application, when one chooses to reduce waste, it implies a conscious effort to limit waste production, which might involve recycling or using fewer resources. Conversely, when we observe that daylight hours decrease in winter, we are describing a natural, cyclical, and unintentional process of reduction in the amount of daylight. Here, decrease denotes a phenomenon occurring without direct human intervention or deliberation, highlighting its more passive or observational nature.
Speaking about their connotations, reduce tends to reflect more on the actions or processes that lead to a lesser amount or size, and it often emphasizes the methodology or approach utilized to achieve a smaller quantity or degree. In contrast, decrease is more focused on the outcome or the state of being reduced and is less concerned with the methods or actions leading to such a state, making it a more neutral and descriptive term.
These words are versatile and can be used in various contexts, be it mathematical, scientific, or everyday language. In mathematics, to reduce a fraction means to simplify it to its lowest terms, highlighting a process or action. To say a value decreases in mathematics simply illustrates that the value is getting smaller, reflecting a state or condition.
From a grammatical perspective, both words can be used as verbs, and decrease can also be used as a noun, referring to the process or amount by which something gets smaller. Reduce often emphasizes action and process, while decrease emphasizes state and result.
Often implies intent and deliberate action
May occur naturally or unintentionally
More on process and action leading to a smaller state
More on the result or the smaller state itself
Broader, can refer to simplification or breaking down
Generally signifies a reduction in size, amount, or number
Primarily used as a verb
Used as both a verb and a noun
More active and involved
More observational and passive
Reduce and Decrease Definitions
To bring to a weaker or more difficult condition.
The illness had reduced him to a shadow of his former self.
The process of diminishing or the amount by which something is lessened.
There was a decrease in sales last month.
To decrease the volume, quantity, or degree.
Reduce the sauce by simmering.
To reduce the number, extent, or duration of something.
We need to decrease the time spent on unproductive tasks.
To bring down, as in extent, amount, or degree; diminish.
To become less or smaller in size, amount, or degree.
Profits have decreased significantly this quarter.
To gain control of; subject or conquer
"a design to reduce them under absolute despotism" (Declaration of Independence).
To make something smaller or less in size, amount, or degree.
We must decrease the amount of waste we produce.
To subject to destruction
Enemy bombers reduced the city to rubble.
To become or cause to become less or smaller, as in number, amount, or intensity.
To bring to a specified undesirable state, as of weakness or helplessness
Disease that reduced the patient to emaciation.
Teasing that reduced the child to tears.
The act or process of decreasing.
To compel to desperate acts
The Depression reduced many to begging on street corners.
The amount by which something decreases.
To lower in rank or grade; demote.
(intransitive) Of a quantity, to become smaller.
The quality of our products has decreased since the main designer left.
To thicken or intensify the flavor of (a sauce, for example) by slow boiling.
(transitive) To make (a quantity) smaller.
Let's decrease the volume a little so we can hear each other talking.
To lower the price of
The store has drastically reduced winter coats.
An amount by which a quantity is decreased.
After six years of constant growth, the company reported a slight decrease in sales last year.
To decrease the viscosity of (paint, for example), as by adding a solvent.
(knitting) A reduction in the number of stitches, usually accomplished by suspending the stitch to be decreased from another existing stitch or by knitting it together with another stitch. See Decrease (knitting).
To put in a simpler or more systematic form; simplify or codify
Reduced her ideas to a collection of maxims.
To grow less, - opposed to increase; to be diminished gradually, in size, degree, number, duration, etc., or in strength, quality, or excellence; as, they days decrease in length from June to December.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
The olive leaf, which certainly them toldThe flood decreased.
Crete's ample fields diminish to our eye;Before the Boreal blasts the vessels fly.
To turn into powder; pulverize.
To cause to grow less; to diminish gradually; as, extravagance decreases one's means.
That might decrease their present store.
To decrease the valence of (an atom) by adding electrons.
A becoming less; gradual diminution; decay; as, a decrease of revenue or of strength.
To remove oxygen from (a compound).
The wane of the moon.
To add hydrogen to (a compound).
A change downward;
There was a decrease in his temperature as the fever subsided
There was a sharp drop-off in sales
To change to a metallic state by removing nonmetallic constituents; smelt.
A process of becoming smaller or shorter
(Mathematics) To simplify the form of (an expression, such as a fraction) without changing the value.
The amount by which something decreases
(Medicine) To restore (a fractured or displaced body part) to a normal condition or position.
The act of decreasing or reducing something
(Linguistics) To pronounce (a stressed vowel) as the unstressed version of that vowel or as schwa.
Decrease in size, extent, or range;
The amount of homework decreased towards the end of the semester
The cabin pressure fell dramatically
Her weight fall to under a hundred pounds
His voice fell to a whisper
To become diminished.
He decreased his staff
To lose weight, as by dieting.
To lower in grade or importance.
A decrease in quality will affect customer satisfaction.
(Biology) To undergo meiosis.
(transitive) To bring down the size, quantity, quality, value or intensity of something; to diminish, to lower.
To reduce weight, speed, heat, expenses, price, personnel etc.
(intransitive) To lose weight.
(transitive) To bring to an inferior rank; to degrade, to demote.
To reduce a sergeant to the ranks
(transitive) To humble; to conquer; to subdue; to capture.
To reduce a province or a fort
(transitive) To bring to an inferior state or condition.
To reduce a city to ashes
To decrease the liquid content of food by boiling much of its water off.
To add electrons / hydrogen or to remove oxygen.
Formaldehyde can be reduced to form methanol.
To produce metal from ore by removing nonmetallic elements in a smelter.
To simplify an equation or formula without changing its value.
To express the solution of a problem in terms of another (known) algorithm.
To convert a syllogism to a clearer or simpler form.
To convert to written form. (Usage note: this verb almost always appears as "reduce to writing".)
It is important that all business contracts be reduced to writing.
To perform a reduction; to restore a fracture or dislocation to the correct alignment.
To reform a line or column from (a square).
To strike off the payroll.
To annul by legal means.
To translate (a book, document, etc.).
A book reduced into English
To bring or lead back to any former place or condition.
And to his brother's house reduced his wife.
The sheep must of necessity be scattered, unless the great Shephered of souls oppose, or some of his delegates reduce and direct us.
To bring to any inferior state, with respect to rank, size, quantity, quality, value, etc.; to diminish; to lower; to degrade; to impair; as, to reduce a sergeant to the ranks; to reduce a drawing; to reduce expenses; to reduce the intensity of heat.
Nothing so excellent but a man may fasten upon something belonging to it, to reduce it.
Having reducedTheir foe to misery beneath their fears.
Hester Prynne was shocked at the condition to which she found the clergyman reduced.
To bring to terms; to humble; to conquer; to subdue; to capture; as, to reduce a province or a fort.
To bring to a certain state or condition by grinding, pounding, kneading, rubbing, etc.; as, to reduce a substance to powder, or to a pasty mass; to reduce fruit, wood, or paper rags, to pulp.
It were but rightAnd equal to reduce me to my dust.
To bring into a certain order, arrangement, classification, etc.; to bring under rules or within certain limits of descriptions and terms adapted to use in computation; as, to reduce animals or vegetables to a class or classes; to reduce a series of observations in astronomy; to reduce language to rules.
To change, as numbers, from one denomination into another without altering their value, or from one denomination into others of the same value; as, to reduce pounds, shillings, and pence to pence, or to reduce pence to pounds; to reduce days and hours to minutes, or minutes to days and hours.
To add an electron to an atom or ion.
To restore to its proper place or condition, as a displaced organ or part; as, to reduce a dislocation, a fracture, or a hernia.
Cut down on; make a reduction in;
Reduce your daily fat intake
The employer wants to cut back health benefits
Make less complex;
Reduce a problem to a single question
Bring to humbler or weaker state or condition;
He reduced the population to slavery
Simplify the form of a mathematical equation of expression by substituting one term for another
Lower in grade or rank or force somebody into an undignified situation;
She reduced her niece to a servant
Be the essential element;
The proposal boils down to a compromise
Reduce in size; reduce physically;
Hot water will shrink the sweater
Can you shrink this image?
Lessen and make more modest;
Reduce one's standard of living
Reduce an image
To remove oxygen from a compound, or cause to react with hydrogen or form a hydride, or to undergo an increase in the number of electrons
Narrow or limit;
Reduce the influx of foreigners
Put down by force or intimidation;
The government quashes any attempt of an uprising
China keeps down her dissidents very efficiently
The rich landowners subjugated the peasants working the land
The cells reduce
Reposition (a broken bone after surgery) back to its normal site
Reduce in scope while retaining essential elements;
The manuscript must be shortened
Be cooked until very little liquid is left;
The sauce should reduce to one cup
Cook until very little liquid is left;
The cook reduced the sauce by boiling it for a long time
Lessen the strength or flavor of a solution or mixture;
Take off weight
To make smaller or less in amount.
We need to reduce our spending.
To bring to a simpler or more basic form.
The equation can be reduced to a simpler form.
To diminish in size, extent, or range.
The company decided to reduce its range of services.
Can reduce imply a deliberate action?
Yes, reduce often implies a deliberate effort or action to make something smaller or lesser.
Is decrease more passive?
Yes, decrease often describes a process of diminishing that can occur without direct human intervention.
Can both reduce and decrease refer to size, amount, and number?
Yes, both can refer to a diminution in size, amount, or number.
Is reduce broader in context than decrease?
Yes, reduce can have broader applications, including simplification and breaking down into components.
Can decrease also be a noun?
Yes, decrease can be used as both a verb and a noun.
Is decrease more neutral in connotation than reduce?
Yes, decrease generally has a more neutral and descriptive connotation.
Can reduce be used in mathematical contexts?
Yes, in mathematics, reduce is used to denote the simplification of expressions or fractions.
Does reduce emphasize more on methodology?
Yes, reduce often emphasizes the process or approach utilized to achieve a lesser state.
Can decrease happen unintentionally?
Yes, decrease can occur unintentionally or naturally.
Can the term reduce imply weakening or deteriorating?
Yes, reduce can imply bringing to a weaker or more difficult condition.
Can the term reduce refer to cooking processes?
Yes, reduce is used in cooking to describe the process of decreasing the volume of liquids.
Can decrease be used to describe natural phenomena?
Yes, decrease can describe natural, cyclical processes like the decrease in daylight hours in winter.
Can reduce imply a reduction in range or variety?
Yes, reduce can imply a decrease in range or variety of services or products.
Does decrease refer more to the result or outcome?
Yes, decrease is often more focused on the outcome or the smaller state itself.
Does reduce usually involve an agent or a doer?
Often, reduce implies an agent or a person who is making something smaller or lesser.
Is decrease related more to the state or condition?
Yes, decrease is often more about the state or condition of being reduced.
Can decrease refer to quality and importance?
Yes, decrease can refer to a reduction in quality or importance.
Is the term reduce more action-oriented?
Yes, reduce is often more action-oriented, emphasizing effort and activity.
Can both reduce and decrease be used in everyday language to describe lessening or diminishing?
Yes, both terms are commonly used to describe the act or process of making something smaller or lesser.
Does the term decrease illustrate observation more than action?
Yes, decrease often illustrates observation and may or may not involve direct action.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.