Meaning of SUM in English


I. sum 1 S2 W2 AC /sʌm/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: summe , from Latin summa , from summus 'highest' ]

1 . MONEY an amount of money:

He owes me a large sum of money.

sum of

the sum of £4,000

large/substantial/considerable etc sum

Bill wants to spend a large sum on modernizing the farm.

small/modest/trifling etc sum

We should be happy to buy it for a modest sum

⇨ ↑ lump sum , ⇨ princely sum at ↑ princely (1)

2 . the sum of something the total produced when you add two or more numbers or amounts together:

You will have to pay the sum of the two sets of costs.

3 . greater/more/better etc than the sum of its parts having a quality or effectiveness as a group that you would not expect from the quality of each member:

The team is greater than the sum of its parts.

4 . CALCULATION a simple calculation by adding, multiplying, dividing etc, especially one done by children at school

5 . do your sums informal British English to calculate whether you have enough money to do something:

Do your sums first before you decide how much to spend.

6 . in sum formal used before a statement that gives the main information about something in a few simple words:

In sum, soul music is important to the record industry.

⇨ ↑ sum total

• • •


■ phrases

▪ a sum of money

We urge people not to keep large sums of money in their houses.

■ adjectives

▪ a large/considerable/substantial sum

He lost a substantial sum of money on the deal.

▪ a huge/enormous/vast sum

The company has invested huge sums in research.

▪ a five-figure/six-figure/seven-figure etc sum (=an amount in the ten thousands, hundred thousands etc )

The newspaper paid a six-figure sum for the photograph of the princess.

▪ a small sum

Each year the inhabitants had to pay a small sum for the use of the pasture.

▪ a modest sum (=not a very big amount of money)

She had paid a modest sum for the paintings.

▪ an undisclosed sum (=an amount that is being kept secret)

He sold the company for an undisclosed sum.

▪ a tidy sum informal (=a large amount of money)

I had managed to save a tidy sum.

▪ the total sum

The total sum lost is believed to be around £2 million.

▪ the princely sum of ... (=a large amount – often used humorously to mean a small amount)

They were surviving on the princely sum of £50 a week.


For the princely sum of $8 million you too could live in a mansion like this.

II. sum 2 AC BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle summed , present participle summing )

sum up phrasal verb

1 . to give the main information in a report, speech etc in a short statement at the end SYN summarize :

Gerald will open the debate and I will sum up.

to sum up

To sum up, for a healthy heart you must take regular exercise and stop smoking.

sum something ↔ up

In your final paragraph, sum up your argument.

2 . when a judge sums up or sums up the case at the end of a ↑ trial , he or she explains the main facts of the case ⇨ ↑ summing-up

3 . sum something ↔ up to describe something using only a few words SYN summarize :

The city’s problem can be summed up in three words: too many people.

4 . sum something ↔ up to show the most typical qualities of someone or something:

That image sums up the whole film.

5 . sum somebody/something ↔ up to form a judgment or opinion about someone or something SYN assess :

Pat summed up the situation at a glance.

6 . that (about) sums it up spoken used to say that a description of a situation is correct:

‘So you want us to help you change but you don’t believe change is possible?’ ‘That about sums it up.’

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.