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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 In 14 of those situations, the shooting was stopped by someone who was unarmed and managed to talk to the person or subdue the shooter with no weapon. Michael Harriot, The Root, "How My Play Cousin Stopped a Mass Shooting and Disproved the Myth About Good Guys With Guns," 10 Mar. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subdue

Dictionary Entries near subdue








Statistics for subdue

Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subdue

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!