- Minus sign indicates that a number is less than zero. It also denotes subtraction. The number, which is less than zero is called a negative number. In typography, minus sign is used, instead of hyphen. There is hardly any difference between the minus sign and hyphen. But typographers, who are very careful, use the appropriate sign for hyphen and minus sign.

The word subtraction is obtained from 2 words “sub” and “tract”. The word sub refers to below or under and the word tract refers to carry away or pull. Hence, subtraction means carrying away the number, from the lower one.

Subtraction is indicated by hyphen sign.

In Chemistry, minus sign is used to denote the property of rotating the polarised light in anticlockwise direction.

In Mathematics, minus sign, when placed between 2 numbers indicate that the 2^{nd} number is to be subtracted from 1^{st} number.

In Latin, minus refers to less.

The minus sign didn’t have any origin since ages. Its origin is also not very clear. Few say minus sign was originated during the hieroglyphic or Alexandria ancestry. It is also known to be used by merchants, in order to detach the tare from the weighing of goods.

The initial use of minus sign was in the German manuscript of algebra, found in the Dresden library in 1481. During a similar period, minus and plus signs were found in Latin manuscript. Johannes Widman was the person who studied both manuscripts. Leizig, in 1489, published his first book (Mercantile Arithmetic) and had mentioned about minus signs. An unknown manuscript has also used the minus sign. It gave inputs for publishing 2 books, during 1518 and 1525.

During the initial period of 17^{th} century, in Italy, the minus sign was used by Cavalieri, Christopher Clavius who was an astronaut and Gloriosi, the Mathematician. In English, the minus sign first appeared in a book named Whetstone of Witte, which was written by Robert Recorde.

The usage of minus sign was very confusing. Earlier in Swiss, Dutch and German books ÷ (presently it is the sign for division) sign was used for minus sign. In few books, in 17^{th} century written by Descartes and Mersenne, 2 dots (..) or at times 3 dots (…) were used for subtraction.

In Mathematics, minus sign is used to represent multiple things. They are as follows:

There are 4 parts in Subtraction. They are **Minuend, Subtrahend, Equals sign and Difference**.

**Minuend** – It indicates the first number, from which the 2^{nd} number has to be taken away. For example, subtract 4 from 10. In Maths, it is written as 10 – 4 = 6. Here, the first number, which is 10 is called as Minuend.

**Subtrahend** – It indicates the 2^{nd} number, which is to taken away from the 1^{st} number. In the above example, 4 are called as Subtrahend. In subtraction, there can be multiple subtrahends. It depends on the complexity of the equation.

**Equal Sign** – It indicates that both sides correspond to the same value.

**Difference** – It indicates to the result obtained after the subtraction process.

There are 4 properties of Subtraction. They are Associative, Identity, Commutative and Inverse.

By using a number line, subtraction process can be carried out. This is just same as Addition. The only difference is in Addition, the order of numbers to be added don’t play a vital role. But in case of Subtraction, the order of numbers to be subtracted plays a very vital role.

Following are various methods to perform Subtraction:

Below is the example:

If Nancy has 10 sweets and Lucy has 4 sweets, what is the difference?

As per the example, start counting from small number (4) and then count till the big number (10).

5 (1), 6(2), 7(3), 8(4), 9(5), 10(6).

Hence the difference is 10 – 4 = 6

In complex cases, it is not possible to count, so the numbers are to be written column-wise, one above the other.

A hawker has earned Rs. 450 per day. He has spent Rs. 70 to buy groceries. How much money is the hawker left with, after buying the grocery?

The numbers are written column-wise and in correct order:

In the above example, since 5 is smaller than 7, 1 has to be borrowed from 4. Hence 4 becomes 3 and 5 becomes 15.

Example: subtract 1001, 999.

Arrange the numbers column wise.

Starting from right side, 1 is less than 9, we need to borrow from the next number which is 0 (10s). Even the 100s number is also 0. So we need to borrow from 1000s number, which is 1.

The borrowing of number has to be done step by step. Since a number has to be borrowed from 1000s, so strike 1 and add 1 to 100s. So 100s number becomes 10.

A number has to be borrowed from 100s, as 10s number has 0. So 100s number becomes 9 and 10s number becomes 10.

1s number has to borrow a number from 10s. So 10s number becomes 9 and 1s number becomes 11. Since the entire column wise numbers are now in proper shape to be subtracted, perform the operation.

The final answer is 2.

Nowadays, calculations can be performed in almost all devices for ease. Following are the steps to be performed, to type minus sign on various devices:

It is very essential to know the codes of all mathematical symbols. Following are the various codes of minus sign.