We have the word additive as in "An additive process" or "additive manufacturing".

Why do we not have the antonym subtractive?

This seems relevant to styles of coding. Especially in css.

When building for mobile first, the process of making it desktop compatible is additive. Adding or including assets as the page expands. While building desktop first, the process of making it mobile compatibile would be subtractive. Removing or hiding elements or assets as the page collapses.

It could also be used when talking about SVGs or other image manipulation tools when subtracting a layer mask. "Additive blending" is used to describe "Linear Dodge". Additive gradients are also discussed.

  • 1
    We do. Granted, it’s not a common term, but then, neither is additive manufacturing.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 4, 2018 at 1:59
  • Oh you're right. I checked oxford just now and its defined. merriam-webster.com and dictionary.com didn't have it.
    – Lex
    Jun 4, 2018 at 2:04
  • Good find! Feel free to post your own answer for the benefit of others who have the same question. Cite and link to the dictionary, and use my link (or others) as an example of the term used ‘in the wild’. This helps establish that the term can be understood in the sense you intend. Use the answer box below if you’re posting an answer. (Posting an answer to your own question in this context is encouraged.)
    – Lawrence
    Jun 4, 2018 at 2:11
  • 1
    Thanks @Lawrence I added the answer. Foolish of me not to thoroughly check dictionaries first.
    – Lex
    Jun 4, 2018 at 3:04

1 Answer 1


So it is a word. Just uncommonly used and not always defined in some online thesauruses merriam-webster or thesaurus.

It is defined in the dictionary

It's use in the wild as pointed out in the comments Making Subtractive Manufacturing Matter Again

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