verb sub·due \ səb-ˈdü , -ˈdyü \
|Updated on: 8 Aug 2018

Definition of subdue

subdued; subduing
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



Examples of subdue in a Sentence

  1. The troops were finally able to subdue the rebel forces after many days of fighting.

  2. He was injured while trying to subdue a violent drunk.

  3. She struggled to subdue her fears.

Recent Examples of subdue from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

SUBDUE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of subdue for English Language Learners

  • : 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)

SUBDUE Defined for Kids


verb sub·due \ səb-ˈdü , -ˈdyü \

Definition of subdue for Students

subdued; subduing
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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excessive admiration or flattery

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