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Negative number

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In mathematics, a negative number represents an opposite. In the real number system, a negative number is a number that is less than zero. Negative numbers are often used to represent the magnitude of a loss or deficiency. A debt that is owed may be thought of as a negative asset. If a quantity, such as the charge on an electron, may have either of two opposite senses, then one may choose to distinguish between those senses—perhaps arbitrarily—as positive and negative. Negative numbers are used to describe values on a scale that goes below zero, such as the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales for temperature. The laws of arithmetic for negative numbers ensure that the common-sense idea of an opposite is reflected in arithmetic. For example, − (−3) = 3 because the opposite of an opposite is the original value.

This thermometer is indicating a negative Fahrenheit temperature (−4 °F).

Negative golf scores relative to par.

Negative story numbers in an elevator.

Plus and minus signs

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The plus sign and the minus sign are mathematical symbols used to denote positive and negative functions, respectively. In addition, + represents the operation of addition, which results in a sum, while − represents subtraction, resulting in a difference. Their use has been extended to many other meanings, more or less analogous. Plus and minus are Latin terms meaning "more" and "less", respectively.

From Johannes Widmann's book on "handy and pretty arithmetic for all merchants"