subject

1 of 3

noun

sub·​ject ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio)
-(ˌ)jekt
1
: one that is placed under authority or control: such as
a
: vassal
b(1)
: one subject to a monarch and governed by the monarch's law
(2)
: one who lives in the territory of, enjoys the protection of, and owes allegiance to a sovereign power or state
2
a
: that of which a quality, attribute, or relation may be affirmed or in which it may inhere
b
: substratum
especially : material or essential substance
c
: the mind, ego, or agent of whatever sort that sustains or assumes the form of thought or consciousness
3
a
: a department of knowledge or learning
b
c(1)
: one that is acted on
the helpless subject of their cruelty
(2)
: an individual whose reactions or responses are studied
(3)
: a dead body for anatomical study and dissection
(4)
: a person who has engaged in activity that a federal prosecutor has identified as being within the scope of a federal grand jury investigation
Most white-collar criminal defendants started out as subjects of a grand jury investigation," said Bruce Green, a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at Fordham. Adam Serwer
d(1)
: something concerning which something is said or done
the subject of the essay
(2)
: something represented or indicated in a work of art
e(1)
: the term of a logical proposition that denotes the entity of which something is affirmed or denied
also : the entity denoted
(2)
: a word or word group denoting that of which something is predicated
f
: the principal melodic phrase on which a musical composition or movement is based
subjectless
ˈsəb-jikt-ləs How to pronounce subject (audio)
-(ˌ)jekt-
adjective

subject

2 of 3

adjective

1
: owing obedience or allegiance to the power or dominion of another
2
a
: suffering a particular liability or exposure
subject to temptation
b
: having a tendency or inclination : prone
subject to colds
3
: contingent on or under the influence of some later action
the plan is subject to discussion

subject

3 of 3

verb

sub·​ject səb-ˈjekt How to pronounce subject (audio)
ˈsəb-ˌjekt
subjected; subjecting; subjects

transitive verb

1
a
: to bring under control or dominion : subjugate
b
: to make (someone, such as oneself) amenable to the discipline and control of a superior
2
: to make liable : predispose
3
: to cause or force to undergo or endure (something unpleasant, inconvenient, or trying)
was subjected to constant verbal abuse
subjection noun
Choose the Right Synonym for subject

Noun

citizen, subject, national mean a person owing allegiance to and entitled to the protection of a sovereign state.

citizen is preferred for one owing allegiance to a state in which sovereign power is retained by the people and sharing in the political rights of those people.

the rights of a free citizen

subject implies allegiance to a personal sovereign such as a monarch.

the king's subjects

national designates one who may claim the protection of a state and applies especially to one living or traveling outside that state.

American nationals working in the Middle East

Adjective

liable, open, exposed, subject, prone, susceptible, sensitive mean being by nature or through circumstances likely to experience something adverse.

liable implies a possibility or probability of incurring something because of position, nature, or particular situation.

liable to get lost

open stresses a lack of barriers preventing incurrence.

a claim open to question

exposed suggests lack of protection or powers of resistance against something actually present or threatening.

exposed to infection

subject implies an openness for any reason to something that must be suffered or undergone.

all reports are subject to review

prone stresses natural tendency or propensity to incur something.

prone to delay

susceptible implies conditions existing in one's nature or individual constitution that make incurrence probable.

very susceptible to flattery

sensitive implies a readiness to respond to or be influenced by forces or stimuli.

unduly sensitive to criticism

Example Sentences

Noun The new museum is the subject of an article in today's paper. Death is a difficult subject that few people like to talk about. I need to break the news to her, but I'm not sure how to bring up the subject. If you're interested in linguistics, I know an excellent book on the subject. an excellent book on the subject of linguistics These meetings would be much shorter if we could keep him from getting off the subject. The morality of capital punishment is a frequent subject of debate. Chemistry was my favorite subject in high school. The classes cover a variety of subject areas, including mathematics and English. Verb Attila the Hun subjected most of Europe to his barbaric pillage. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Epstein left an estate worth at least $577 million that has been the subject of litigation. Khadeeja Safdar, WSJ, 24 Nov. 2022 The trove is also the subject of continuing scholarly research on Celtic trade networks. Jeff Zymeri, Fox News, 24 Nov. 2022 Stratten’s tragic death was the subject of two movies: Bob Fosse’s Star 80 and Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Shannon Carlin, Time, 23 Nov. 2022 The Nord Stream 2 deal should also be the subject of an inquiry at the federal level, said Roderich Kiesewetter, a parliamentarian with Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Souad Mekhennet, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2022 The Dominican sugar industry has been the subject of scrutiny for decades for its poor labor practices. Ana Swanson, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2022 The 1990 building is the subject of a new city survey asking residents about the future of recreation offerings in the city. John Benson, cleveland, 23 Nov. 2022 Harper did not elaborate in that email about her allegations or identify who might be the subject of her complaint. Ray Long, Chicago Tribune, 23 Nov. 2022 Layton had a close friendship with Girardi during the years when the lawyer was the subject of scores of ethics complaints. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2022
Adjective
But Trump's team has argued the materials seized at the former president's residence are both his own, personal — as opposed to presidential — records and are subject to executive privilege. Robert Legare, CBS News, 14 Nov. 2022 The deal, expected to be announced Monday, is subject to regulatory approvals in both the U.S. and U.K. Julie Wernau, WSJ, 14 Nov. 2022 Guests using these lanes will be subject to a light pat-down or hand wand, as well as inspection of the mobility device. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, 14 Nov. 2022 While candidates are subject to parliamentary approval, any disagreement between the assembly and the president could block activity at the court, according to political analyst Samo Uhan. Jan Bratanic, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Nov. 2022 Our winner could also be subject to state taxes, depending on their state residence. George Petras, USA Today, 12 Nov. 2022 Nearly 2020 homes were flooded, officials said, noting that numbers were subject to change. Julia Musto, Fox News, 12 Nov. 2022 Twitter is now subject to the whims of owner Elon Musk, the richest man in the world. Emily Parker, CNN, 12 Nov. 2022 Seventy-three percent of Palestinian children in Israeli custody last year reported being subject to physical violence, an all-time high, according to Military Court Watch, a watchdog group based in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Shira Rubin, Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2022
Verb
What loving parent wants to subject themselves to such teachings, week after week after week? Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 23 Oct. 2022 In Missouri, school librarians are reportedly pulling books from shelves to prepare for a new law that could subject them to fines and even jail time. Ron Charles, Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2022 Finally, critics assert that the tax could subject the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to political pressure from Congress. Reuven Avi-yonah For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 24 Nov. 2021 Myers supported bills at the Legislature to limit the commission's power to enact clean energy standards and to allow lawmakers to initiate reviews of commission decisions and subject them to consideration by the Arizona Supreme Court. Tirzah Christopher, The Arizona Republic, 28 Oct. 2022 All of which is to say, thankfully, that this is one Netflix reality show, at least, where no one will subject themselves to all manner of debasement in order to find love. Andy Meek, BGR, 23 Sep. 2022 Considering how often society betrays survivors, Ani’s reluctance to subject herself to public scrutiny is understandable; Luckiest Girl Alive’s narrative aligns with the bleak state of affairs. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Oct. 2022 Momentum does seem to be building for a deal to get done before the regular season, but Jackson didn’t commit to reporting to training camp on time in late July, which could subject him to fines of $50,000 per day. Ben Volin, BostonGlobe.com, 18 June 2022 Many marginalized people happen to be women, including low-income mothers, for whom the mere act of applying for public assistance can subject them to presumptions of criminal intent. Nora Mcdonald, Chron, 16 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'subject.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English suget, subget, from Anglo-French, from Latin subjectus one under authority & subjectum subject of a proposition, from masculine & neuter respectively of subjectus, past participle of subicere to subject, literally, to throw under, from sub- + jacere to throw — more at jet

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of subject was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near subject

Cite this Entry

“Subject.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subject. Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

subject 1 of 3

noun

sub·​ject ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio)
1
a
: a person under the authority or control of another
b
: a person who owes loyalty to a monarch or state
2
a
: a department of knowledge or learning
b
: an individual (as a person or a mouse) that is studied or experimented on
c
: the person or thing discussed : topic
the subject of an essay
3
: a noun or term functioning as a noun about which something is stated in the predicate of a sentence
"child" in "the child threw the ball" is the subject

subject

2 of 3

adjective

1
: owing obedience or loyalty to another
2
a
: likely to be affected by
subject to temptation
b
: having a tendency
subject to catching colds
3
: depending on
subject to your approval

subject

3 of 3

verb

sub·​ject səb-ˈjekt How to pronounce subject (audio)
1
a
: to bring under control or rule
b
: to make responsive to the discipline and control of a superior
2
: to make likely
his poor conduct subjected him to criticism
3
: to cause or force to put up with something difficult, unpleasant, or inconvenient
unwilling to subject us to embarrassment
subjection noun

Medical Definition

subject

noun

sub·​ject ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio)
1
: an individual whose reactions or responses are studied
2
: a dead body for anatomical study and dissection

Legal Definition

subject

noun

sub·​ject ˈsəb-ˌjekt How to pronounce subject (audio)
: the person upon whose life a life insurance policy is written and upon whose death the policy is payable : insured compare beneficiary sense b, policyholder

More from Merriam-Webster on subject

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