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

But since the financial crisis growth has been subdued, with the fastest rate of 9.1% reached in 2015’s first quarter. Simon Constable, WSJ, "What’s Driving Bank Stocks?," 8 July 2018 She and a person who was with her continued to fight with officers before they were subdued. Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "Eight years in prison for woman who used pepper spray on OP police officers," 3 July 2018 The footage shifts back to the male suspect, who at this point has been subdued by the officer. Amy B Wang, ajc, "Cameras capture every angle of Canadian couple's snack-throwing, ceiling-shattering arrest," 1 July 2018 Feedback from global markets may be subdued for now. The Economist, "Rate rises affect global markets—and may feed back to America," 14 June 2018 But the usual high-wattage of Hollywood stars will be subdued compared to the years when Barack Obama was president, and several companies have canceled their before- and after-parties. Kate Sullivan, CNN, "The White House correspondents' dinner: What to expect," 28 Apr. 2018 Photography is allowed throughout but is difficult: Floor-level electric lighting is subdued, with illumination diffused by metal shades. John Bordsen, USA TODAY, "North Korean nukes tracked from Tennessee tourist caverns," 13 Apr. 2018 While the trading curbs may have played a role in the decline, activity across Chinese markets was subdued as investors trickled back to work after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday., "China's VIX Goes Dark as Government Clamps Down on Options," 22 Feb. 2018 Several pictures show police holding Loughner on the ground, after taking over for civilians who ended the mayhem by tackling and subduing him. Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY, "FBI files: Jared Loughner apparently wrote poem for 2011 killing spree," 6 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

17 Oct 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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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