The "Minus Sign (−)" Symbol in Mathematics (2024)

The Mathematical Symbol "Minus Sign (−)"

homesitemapsymbolsminus sign

The − Symbol in Mathematics: The Minus Sign

Among the most universally recognized symbols in mathematics is the − symbol, representing the "Minus Sign". This simple yet profound symbol finds application across a spectrum of mathematical operations and contexts. This short lesson covers the diverse uses of the − sign and offers illustrative examples for clarity.


The primary functions of the − symbol are to show subtraction and to indicate negative values. Its ubiquity in mathematics arises from its foundational role in arithmetic, algebra, and numerous other domains of the discipline.


  • Example 1: Subtraction of Numbers: When considering the subtraction of two numbers, the − sign is used to indicate the operation. For instance:
    \( 7 − 5 = 2 \)
    In this equation, 5 is subtracted from 7 to yield a result of 2.
  • Example 2: Indicating Negative Values: The − sign is also employed to represent negative quantities. For example:
    \( −3 \)
    Here, −3 is a negative number, and the − sign serves to differentiate it from its positive counterpart.
  • Example 3: In Equations: In algebraic equations, the − sign helps convey relationships and operations. Consider:
    \( x^2 + 5x − 6 = 0 \)
    This quadratic equation includes both positive and negative coefficients, with the − sign denoting the negative value.

In summary, the − symbol, or the minus sign, is a foundational component of mathematical notation. Its versatility and widespread application make it one of the most fundamental symbols in the world of numbers and equations.

The "Minus Sign (−)" Symbol in Mathematics (1)

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Codes for the − Symbol

The Symbol
Alt CodeAlt 8722
HTML Code−
HTML Entity&ampminus;
CSS Code\2212
Hex Code−

How To Insert the − Symbol

(Method 1) Copy and paste the symbol.

The easiest way to get the − symbol is to copy and paste it into your document.

Bear in mind that this is a UTF-8 encoded character. It must be encoded as UTF-8 at all stages (copying, replacing, editing, pasting), otherwise it will render as random characters or the dreaded �.

(Method 2) Use the "Alt Code."

If you have a keyboard with a numeric pad, you can use this method. Simply hold down the Alt key and type 8722. When you lift the Alt key, the symbol appears. ("Num Lock" must be on.)

(Method 3) Use the HTML Decimal Code (for webpages).

HTML TextOutput
<b>My symbol: &#8722;</b>My symbol: −

(Method 4) Use the HTML Entity Code (for webpages).

HTML TextOutput
<b>My symbol: &minus;&lt/b>My symbol: −

(Method 5) Use the CSS Code (for webpages).

CSS and HTML TextOutput
span:after {
content: "\2212";}
<span>My symbol:</span>
My symbol: −

(Method 6) Use the HTML Hex Code (for webpages and HTML canvas).

HTML TextOutput
<b>My symbol: &#x2212;&lt/b>My symbol: −

On the assumption that you already have your canvas and the context set up, use the Hex code in the format 0x2212 to place the − symbol on your canvas. For example:

JavaScript Text
const x = "0x"+"E9"
ctx.fillText(String.fromCodePoint(x), 5, 5);

(Method 7) Use the Unicode (for various, e.g. Microsoft Office, JavaScript, Perl).

The Unicode for − is U+2212. The important part is the hexadecimal number after the U+, which is used in various formats. For example, in Microsoft Office applications (e.g. Word, PowerPoint), do the following:

[Hold down Alt]
[Press x]

(The 2212 turns into −. Note that you can omit any leading zeros.)

In JavaScript, the syntax is \uXXXX. So, our example would be \u2212. (Note that the format is 4 hexadecimal characters.)

JavaScript TextOutput
let str = "\u2212"
document.write("My symbol: " + str)
My symbol: −

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More about Mathematical Symbols

Mathematics is a universal language that is used to describe and understand the intricacies of the universe. At the heart of this language are symbols, concise representations that convey specific meanings and ideas.

Just as letters come together to form words in spoken languages, mathematical symbols combine to form expressions and equations, encapsulating intricate ideas in a compact form. The history of these symbols is as varied as their meanings; some have been in use for centuries while others have been introduced more recently to describe new discoveries and concepts. Whether you are a student, educator, researcher, or simply curious, this list of mathematical symbols will serve as a guide, shedding light on their meanings, origins, and applications.

From the simple plus and minus signs to the more esoteric and complex, each symbol has its unique story and significance.

More Symbols

Full List of Mathematical Symbols

The "Minus Sign (−)" Symbol in Mathematics (2024)
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