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 The trio was among a handful of people who helped tackle and subdue the assailant, whose assault rifle had jammed. Evie Fordham, Fox News, "Oregon veteran who thwarted Paris train attack to run again to unseat Democrat DeFazio," 2 May 2021 The inquiries, which will take months to complete, are almost certain to result in clearer and more comprehensive rules governing when officers can subdue someone or rely on potentially lethal measures. Los Angeles Times, "There’s no national use-of-force policy, and that’s trouble for police reform, experts say," 30 Apr. 2021 Newhalen’s Johnna Nanalook pumped in 31 points, 10 rebounds and six steals to subdue Lumen Christi. Anchorage Daily News, "Class 1A state basketball tournament tips off with close games," 2 Apr. 2021 The electricity temporarily paralyzes a person’s muscles, allowing police to subdue a suspect and make an arrest without causing bodily harm. al, "How can police mistake a gun for a taser? ‘Rare but possible’," 24 Apr. 2021 The agent, Jacob Pina, said in court papers that Mandeville fought efforts to subdue and arrest him. Washington Post, "Man charged with assaulting Swiss ambassador inside official residence," 30 Mar. 2021 In an attempt to subdue and calm the child, officers took her to the ground, handcuffed, and put her in the back of a police vehicle. Will Cleveland, USA TODAY, "Mother of 9-year-old girl pepper-sprayed by Rochester police intends to sue city," 4 Feb. 2021 That officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder, and three officers who helped to subdue and restrain Floyd are charged with aiding in the Black man’s killing. Bob Egelko,, "After George Floyd killing, prosecutions of police increase. How will jurors react?," 17 Dec. 2020 There is a common belief that forcing a shooter to stop to replace magazines would save lives by allowing someone to subdue him. Steve Chapman,, "Column: Banning assault weapons is unlikely to stop mass shootings," 26 Mar. 2021

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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subdue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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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 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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