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Let $a - b$ denote the operation of subtraction on two objects.

The object $a$ is known as the minuend of $a - b$.

Note that the nature of $a$ and $b$ has deliberately been left unspecified.

They could be, for example, numbers, matrices or more complex expressions constructed from such elements.

Linguistic Note

The word minuend derives from the Latin minuendus, meaning that which is to be diminished (that is, made smaller).