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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web For the past 15 years, federal agencies have tried to subdue growing populations of quagga mussels, an invasive species that interferes with water infrastructure and threatens ecosystems. Lindsey Botts, The Arizona Republic, 25 Apr. 2022 Seven people, including two children, died in artillery fire in Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine, as Russian forces tried to subdue the city near the border, the Ukrainian news media reported. New York Times, 27 Mar. 2022 Several times the girl was placed in mechanical restraints and isolated from other youths on site, sometimes for hours as staffers tried to subdue her. Phil Davis,, 3 Nov. 2021 Western and Ukrainian military officials were trying to ascertain whether Russia had used or intended to use chemical weapons in a bid to subdue Mariupol. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 13 Apr. 2022 Russia continued efforts to subdue cities and towns in the Ukrainian south, piecing together a land bridge to the Crimean Peninsula and choking off Ukraine’s access to the Black and Azov Seas. Brett Forrest, WSJ, 8 Mar. 2022 Former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper echoed Rice’s assessment of the Russian ruler, who has grown increasingly frustrated over his failure to swiftly subdue Ukrainian forces. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 28 Feb. 2022 That would lead to continuing vaccination drop-offs, undermining efforts to subdue the viral menace., 1 May 2021 Amhara militias as well as troops from neighboring Eritrea have become essential to Abiy’s efforts to subdue rebels in Tigray — a war that has already cost thousands of lives and left millions in dire need of humanitarian aid. Washington Post, 19 Mar. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Subdue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for subdue


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on subdue

Nglish: Translation of subdue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subdue for Arabic Speakers


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