sub·due | \ səb-ˈdü , -ˈdyü \
subdued; subduing

Definition of subdue 

transitive verb

1 : to conquer and bring into subjection : vanquish

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

3 : to bring (land) under cultivation

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

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Other words from subdue

subduer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of subdue in a Sentence

The troops were finally able to subdue the rebel forces after many days of fighting. He was injured while trying to subdue a violent drunk. She struggled to subdue her fears.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Journalist Pete Hamill, who helped subdue Robert Kennedy's assassin, says the wound America suffered that night has yet to heal. CBS News, "Remembering 1968: Robert F. Kennedy, and a generation's loss," 3 June 2018 Bieber writes about how Buddhist teachings helped to subdue his intrusive thoughts; what specifically helped was accepting the Buddhist notion that there is no unified self at all. Ashleigh Young, The Cut, "Ghost Knife," 2 July 2018 Even with the bats subdued, a confluence of factors explains how the race for power came in vogue among collegiate players. Matthew Gutierrez, WSJ, "Baseball’s Home Run Obsession Hits the College Ranks," 25 June 2018 At Silverado, before the concert began, some of the residents were subdued, showing little emotion, not saying much. Robert Mccoppin,, "Music Can Call Back Loved Ones Lost In Alzheimer's Darkness," 22 June 2018 Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya since 2004, has stifled any form of dissent, subduing the separatist movement that fought the Russian army for nearly two decades. James Masters, CNN, "Mohamed Salah and the hope of 100 million Egyptians: 'I don't feel the pressure'," 14 June 2018 Reconnecting with deep memories At Silverado, before the concert began, some of the residents were subdued, showing little emotion, not saying much. Robert Mccoppin,, "Music can call back loved ones lost in Alzheimer's darkness: 'So much we can do to improve quality of life'," 11 June 2018 Biggs allegedly hit Dax before the suspect was subdued and transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center, Libertyville for treatment of a bite wound on his leg, according to Covelli. Frank Abderholden, Lake County News-Sun, "Police dog captures suspect who robbed good Samaritan: cops," 9 July 2018 CEDARBURG - Police were seeking charges of battery to an officer against a 26-year-old Cedarburg man who allegedly bit an officer June 10 before being subdued with a Taser in a home in the 300 block of Cedar Pointe Avenue. Bill Kurtz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cedarburg police seek charges against man with autism after he allegedly bit an officer," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subdue.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of subdue

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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Statistics for subdue

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subdue

The first known use of subdue was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for subdue



English Language Learners 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)


sub·due | \ səb-ˈdü , -ˈdyü \
subdued; subduing

Kids Definition of subdue

1 : to bring under control He subdued his fears. Police subdued the angry man.

2 : to overcome in battle Troops subdued the enemy.

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Comments on subdue

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


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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