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In math, the word difference is the result of subtracting one number from another. In math, we find the difference between two numbers by subtracting the subtrahend (the number that is subtracted) from the minuend (the number that is subtracted from).

Arithmetic: What does "difference" mean?

Here are two pairs of numbers.

7 and 6. And 9 and 2.

Which two numbers are more different from each other? 7 and 6, or 9 and 2?

If you asked a hundred people that question, most of them would say 9 and 2. Why?

Because numbers like 7, 6, 9, 2 really mean amounts.

The amount 7 is almost the same as the amount 6.

These amounts, 9 and 2, are more different.

What if you wanted to think about these differences more precisely? What would you do?

One thing you could do is put 7 objects in a row and 6 objects in another row.

The difference between these two rows is right at the end, in red.

The row of 7 has 1 more than the row of 6.

We could even say: The difference between these two numbers is 1.

We can do the same thing for 9 and 2.

Here's 9.

Here's 2.

The difference between these two numbers is the part in red.

The row of 9 has 7 more than the row of 2, so we could say the difference between these two numbers is 7.

And that's what the word "difference" means in math!

When people ask "What is the difference between 9 and 2?" they really mean "By how much are these two numbers different?"

And that's why you often hear the word being used with subtraction.

7 minus 6 is 1.

9 minus 2 is 7.

Any time you want to find out how different two amounts are, you can find that by subtracting.

And that's why we use the word "difference" in subtraction!