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

By subduing cravings and withdrawal, the medication addresses some of the core causes of addiction. German Lopez, Vox, "A Vermont needle exchange isn’t just giving out syringes. It’s offering treatment on the spot.," 20 Nov. 2018 Like Naked Heat, which launched last year, Naked Cherry is another play off the red spectrum and its ability to create both subdued and statement looks. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "The Swatches for Urban Decay's Naked Cherry Palette Are Drop-Dead Gorgeous," 4 Sep. 2018 Chuck pleaded with Hester to go get his gun, so Hester ran to his room, grabbed the firearm, subdued the intruder and held the man at gunpoint until police arrived. Michael Harriot, The Root, "All Black People Are Victims of Police Brutality," 26 June 2018 Unless the Golden Knights can figure out how to subdue Washington’s best players and inspire their own top players to perform at a higher level, the Capitals are on their way to winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Kevin Allen, USA TODAY, "Capitals crush Golden Knights in Game 4, are one win from first Stanley Cup," 4 June 2018 But with inflationary pressure still subdued across the euro zone, policymakers may not be too exercised. The Economist, "The euro area’s economy loses momentum," 26 Apr. 2018 The father of the other girl then subdued the suspect and held him until officers arrived, police said. Emily Sweeney,, "Parents battle homeless man who chased daughter and friend into Lowell home," 18 June 2018 The simulation depicted an active shooter at a high school, and the officers needed to identify and subdue three gunmen. Evan Macdonald,, "Watch Tri-C officers experience simulated school shooting on tech planned for police trainees," 6 Mar. 2018 On its Autism Day, Great Adventure will turn the music down and subdue the lights. Amanda Oglesby, USA TODAY, "Six Flags hosts Autism Day in New Jersey park on May 3," 24 Apr. 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

12 Dec 2018

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on subdue

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subdue

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subdue

Spanish Central: Translation of subdue

Nglish: Translation of subdue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subdue for Arabic Speakers

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a knickknack or trinket

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