sub·​due | \ səb-ˈdü How to pronounce subdue (audio) , -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 Their sacrifice would become an important part of Athenian heritage: The memory of Marathon would rally Greek spirits when the Persian fleet returned a few years later to try, once again, to subdue Athens. National Geographic, "At the Battle of Marathon, Athens' underdog victory stunned Persia," 6 Feb. 2020 Officers tried to subdue the man with pepper spray but were unsuccessful. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Screwdriver-wielding man could face charges after allegedly threatening officers in Pasadena church," 13 Dec. 2019 Stuart police said in a statement that the suspect also attacked responding police after store security guards tried to subdue him. Dennis Romero, NBC News, "Attack on a Walmart cashier in Florida captured on video," 5 Oct. 2019 Energy prices and oil Energy prices remained subdued as investors appeared skeptical that a global deal to reduce oversupply will provide a long-term solution as demand crumbles during the pandemic lockdowns. Elaine Kurtenbach, ajc, "NEW: US stocks soar as plans take shape to reopen U.S. economy," 17 Apr. 2020 The Bank of Japan has been buying Japanese government bonds for years, but inflation there has been subdued throughout. Jon Hilsenrath, WSJ, "Coronavirus Crisis Legacy: Mountains of Debt," 9 Apr. 2020 Other passengers subdued the man and law enforcement personnel took him off the flight Tuesday evening, according to St. Louis television station KMOV4. Loyd Brumfield, Dallas News, "Passengers subdue man who tried to open exit door on American Airlines flight to Dallas," 4 Mar. 2020 Now, with its efforts to subvert Taiwanese democracy thwarted, the CCP must choose between tolerating unprecedented support for Taiwanese independence or subduing the island by force. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "Taiwan’s Election Rebuked Xi Jinping," 23 Jan. 2020 The data suggests that those same worries will keep economic activity subdued after restrictions are lifted. New York Times, "Does Private Equity Deserve a Public Bailout?," 14 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for subdue

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for subdue

Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Subdue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for subdue


How to pronounce subdue (audio)

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 How to pronounce subdue (audio) , -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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subdue

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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