Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

subdue

play
transitive verb sub·due \səb-ˈdü, -ˈdyü\

Simple Definition of subdue

  • : to get control of (a violent or dangerous person or group) by using force, punishment, etc.

  • : to get control of (something, such as a strong emotion)

Full Definition of subdue

sub·duedsub·du·ing

  1. 1 :  to conquer and bring into subjection :  vanquish

  2. 2 :  to bring under control especially by an exertion of the will :  curb <subdued my foolish fears>

  3. 3 :  to bring (land) under cultivation

  4. 4 :  to reduce the intensity or degree of :  tone down

sub·du·er noun

Examples of subdue

  1. The troops were finally able to subdue the rebel forces after many days of fighting.

  2. He was injured while trying to subdue a violent drunk.

  3. She struggled to subdue her fears.



Origin of subdue

Middle English sodewen, subduen, from Anglo-French soduire, subdure to lead astray, overcome, arrest (influenced in form and meaning by Latin subdere to subject), from Latin subducere to withdraw, remove stealthily


First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of subdue

conquer, vanquish, defeat, subdue, reduce, overcome, overthrow mean to get the better of by force or strategy. conquer implies gaining mastery of <Caesar conquered Gaul>. vanquish implies a complete overpowering <vanquished the enemy and ended the war>. defeat does not imply the finality or completeness of vanquish which it otherwise equals <the Confederates defeated the Union forces at Manassas>. subdue implies a defeating and suppression <subdued the native tribes after years of fighting>. reduce implies a forcing to capitulate or surrender <the city was reduced after a month-long siege>. overcome suggests getting the better of with difficulty or after hard struggle <overcame a host of bureaucratic roadblocks>. overthrow stresses the bringing down or destruction of existing power <violently overthrew the old regime>.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up subdue? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 7, 2016

a slight offense

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders pince-nez spindrift duvet
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ