Suppose that a teacher says

I will minus your points if you cheat.

To mean "I will deduct your points." Here, minus is apparently used as a verb. Checking out the dictionaries, it can be seen that minus is only listed as a preposition, adjective, and/or noun. However, some people argue that "minus your points" is a phrase commonly used. Therefore, I ask this question here to double-check that it is invalid to use "minus" as a verb.

Is this phrase acceptable? If so, is it commonly used?

  • 1
    It's not common in most of the US.
    – Hot Licks
    May 16, 2019 at 12:14
  • 2
    Not common in most dialects. Do not use this yourself. But if someone else uses it, do not correct them. (Unless they have asked you to correct their English.)
    – GEdgar
    May 16, 2019 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


It is an unfortunate but not an uncommon use of the word. In environments where math is done and spoken of casually such corruptions are not unusual. They should have some of their points minused themselves.

  • You are free not to use it if you don't like it. But your value judgments are of no greater value than those of people who do use it.
    – Colin Fine
    May 16, 2019 at 18:39
  • We are all free to misuse the English language as we please. That keeps the problems coming. My lighthearted comments reflect my disappointment with those who should know better, such as the proctor of the test in the OP's remarks.
    – Elliot
    May 17, 2019 at 17:30
  • And I'm disputing your "should know better". (I don't believe I've ever come across the usage, by the way. But then I also don't remember coming across "proctor" used in the way you have just done so.)
    – Colin Fine
    May 17, 2019 at 20:42

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