We are familiar with addendum (and addenda), which we take directly from Latin to mean

  • "something (or things) added"

This is used especially in regard to written work such as books.

Today I was writing/editing a summary of a meeting I had attended, and gave a draft of the summary to one senior colleague (who also had attended the meeting) for him to review, before I send it out to a larger audience.

He pointed out several items (small sections) in the summary, which actually were discussed at the meeting, but which he felt it would be ill-advised to publish, for office-political reasons.

I edited the summary, removing those parts and setting them aside in a separate file. It made sense to me to title that file Subtrahenda, on the arithmetical model:

Addend* + Addend = Sum

Minuend – Subtrahend = Difference

I then used an online dictionary metasearch and found that subtrahendum apparently does not appear in any of the "usual" dictionaries. But it does appear in the Urban Dictionary, in the sense I expected.


However, that definition mentions "a list", which, it serms to me, would better be described as subtrahenda (from the latin plural, like agenda and addenda).

I am well aware of redaction, but my understanding is that this refers to striking of text after a document was printed. (An aside: I learned today that many of Secretary Hillary Clinton's email messages were just released, and one part of one of them was redacted because it was retroactively declared "classified" by the FBI, though that information was not "classified" at the time it was sent. So the topic seems timely, although her case differs from mine; hers seems clearly about redaction.)

I realize that the process of removing text before publication (by the author( is a kind of_prior (self) censorship_, but I am not looking for a word for the process, but rather for the part that was removed and set aside.

So my question is this: is there an existing word that means exactly that—the portion that is intentionally removed from a document (by the author) before its publication, and saved as a separate smaller document? Or should I use the neologism subtrahendum, or my variant of it subtrahenda?

*(sometimes called the augend)

  • Why are you even keeping this file if your coworker believes that publishing it would be a bad idea? May 23, 2015 at 5:03
  • If it belongs with the other document. is it a codicil?
    – Hugh
    May 23, 2015 at 5:32
  • @SomethingDark: CYA. And I'm a packrat. And it might come in handy if later if the politics change. May 23, 2015 at 5:55
  • 3
    I would call the text in question an archived excision from the main document.
    – Erik Kowal
    May 23, 2015 at 7:32
  • 1
    Your neologism would be perfectly transparent to me, and I would understand it immediately to mean “things that are to be subtracted”. As Stoney says, though, that's only what the classified bits are while they're still in the original document; once the subtrahenda have been subtracted, they become subtracta. May 24, 2015 at 1:04

2 Answers 2


The -end- morpheme in subtrahendum, -a signifies in Latin a gerundive: a verbform designating things to be VERBen. Corrigenda is the title of a list of things which you are to correct, presumably by paging through the text, striking the mistakes and writing in the corrections. Agenda, likewise, designates things to be done, in the vague future or on a specific occasion. Cato the Censor was famous for urging on all occasions Carthago delenda est, "Carthage must be destroyed".

Your file, however, contains a number of items which have been removed; for these you want a past/passive participle form: subtracta or redacta or deleta.

In ordinary English usage, however, where we have naturalized verbs derived from the passive participle, we use the nominal derivative in -(t)ion: subtractions, redactions, deletions.

  • A gerundive is also known as a future passive participle.
    – Mitch
    May 23, 2015 at 18:00
  • @Mitch I still can't shake off 7th grade Latin. A better name, though I'd be happier calling it something like an unfulfilled passive ppl, since it represents something which at reference time ought to be done or is expected to be done. May 23, 2015 at 18:33
  • Thanks, StoneyB; that was elucidating as to the Latin conjugations. However, I find that in the English dictionaries I consult, subtraction is always defined as a process, or an operation, or an instance of such a process/operation—never as the thing subtracted. Odd, perhaps, since one can, for example, build an addition on a house. But I'm afraid nobody would consider subtraction in the sense I need, as that's not in the dictionary. It seems I would be inventing a new meaning for subtraction. May 25, 2015 at 9:04
  • @BrianHitchcock Not inventing a new meaning--employing an everyday extension of sense, which does not appear in the dictionary simply because nobody has ever needed it. Dictionaries don't authorize meanings, they record them. And apparently you need not worry about what the word means to anybody but yourself! ... But you can still use the Latin pappl subtracta -- though I would incline more toward extracta -- which you can with plenty of precedent English as either extractions or extracts. May 25, 2015 at 12:11
  • @BrianHitchcock Incidentally, here is an instance of subtraction used in a scholarly work in the sense I put forward. May 25, 2015 at 12:15

Interesting concept, but your definition of addendum is flawed. Addendum could actually refer to your extra document as well, since it contains stuff that isn't in the original; it adds to it. Your neologism seems to me to mean stuff that shouldn't be in the final document (yet exists there already).

Why not simply call it redactions? Or label it "company internal"?

While it's fun to make up new words, we should probably do so only when existing words do not convey the entire sense.

Also somewhat relevant – the government uses the term sanitized to refer to a document that may have once contained classified information that has since been redacted or otherwise removed. Source documents may also be portion-marked, indicating which lines are unclassified and which are classified; for instance an overall SECRET document might have sections that are UNCLASSIFIED, which would receive a "(U)" at the beginning of that section. All other sections would have "(S)" prepended.

  • The original draft, or minuend, did contain this text. But that minuend version no longer exists (provided I make sure not to leave any "tracked changes" in the edited Word doc!) The subtrahend (removed content) and the difference (edited publishable document) are all that exist. Interesting discussion of how the government does it; I'm not that sophisticated. May 23, 2015 at 6:05

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