sub·ject | \ˈsəb-jikt, -(ˌ)jekt\

Definition of subject 

(Entry 1 of 3)

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

2a : 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

3a : a department of knowledge or learning

b : motive, cause

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

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



Definition of subject (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : owing obedience or allegiance to the power or dominion of another

2a : 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


sub·ject | \səb-ˈjekt, ˈsəb-ˌjekt\
subjected; subjecting; subjects

Definition of subject (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : 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

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Other Words from subject


subjectless \ˈsəb-jikt-ləs, -(ˌ)jekt- \ adjective


subjection \səb-ˈjek-shən \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for subject

Synonyms: Noun

citizen, freeman, national

Synonyms: Verb

conquer, dominate, overpower, pacify, subdue, subjugate, subordinate, vanquish

Antonyms: Noun

alien, noncitizen

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Choose the Right Synonym for subject


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


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

Examples of subject in a Sentence


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.


Attila the Hun subjected most of Europe to his barbaric pillage.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The list will be the subject of public hearings Aug. 20 to 23 before a decision is made on enacting the tariffs. Jim Puzzanghera,, "After Trump's new tariff threat, China may either have to blink or widen the trade war," 11 July 2018 But on a grand enough scale, all strengths end up subject to the law that underlies the Peter Principle. David Murphy,, "How LeBron James' decision may change Sixers' Star Hunt approach | David Murphy," 2 July 2018 Numbers worn by unregistered participants are subject to disqualification. Matt Sabath, ajc, "What You Need to Know Before Running the AJC Peachtree Road Race," 28 June 2018 Hence, the word mercurial: subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind. Michael Mcknight,, "Percy Harvin Takes His Battle With Anxiety Public as He Gets Closer to Internal Peace," 28 June 2018 Light is also subject to the Doppler effect: a source of light that is receding has a redder color than one that is approaching. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Spinning glass ball rejects light from one direction," 27 June 2018 Powders in carry-on bags are also subject to a secondary search by the TSA, and containers may be opened. Temi Adebowale, Town & Country, "The TSA Just Placed New Restrictions on Powders in Carry-On Luggage," 25 June 2018 Wood gave her approval to the designation of 161 items as subject to attorney-client privilege out of over 300,000 items found on phones and eight boxes of materials seized from Cohen’s residence and office. Larry Neumeister,, "Judge OK’s small number of privileged items in Michael Cohen case," 22 June 2018 This allows a person (subject to minimum age requirements) to operate a personal watercraft or a recreational boat up to 65 feet in length. Courant Community, "Community News For The East Hartford Edition," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Tweets or posts are the subject line of the news releases and are not reviewed. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "State account auto-tweets link to Attorney General Curtis Hill statement criticizing accuser," 12 July 2018 After President Donald Trump took office, about 1,400 Iraqis who were subject to orders of removal were rounded up and detained. Erik Larson,, "Trump Administration Ordered to Stop Harassing Jailed Iraqis," 20 June 2018 Such neighborhoods are also often underserved by transit, which means residents are subject to the crushing economic burden of car dependence, particularly predatory auto lending. Eben Weiss, Outside Online, "No, Cycling Isn't Elitist," 5 July 2018 Children’s Hospital lawyers had argued that the family did not subject McMath to tests accepted by the American Medical Association to determine brain death. NBC News, "Girl declared brain-dead 5 years ago dies in California," 29 June 2018 Spray efforts are often subject to weather conditions as wind and rain can render the efforts ineffective. Austen Erblat,, "Royal Palm Beach, Wellington to spray for mosquitoes ahead of Fourth of July," 22 June 2018 And the contract is entirely subject to the laws of China and any arbitration must be done via CIETAC — the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Committee. Ben Bohane, New York Times, "South Pacific Nation Shrugs Off Worries on China’s Influence," 13 June 2018 No, the 1970s were an era of countrywide flux, where women’s rights, cultural mores, and national expectations were all subject to immediate, unexpected, jarring change., "American Woman Review: Kyle Richards’ 70s Romp Is TV’s Breeziest New Show," 7 June 2018 Although Kurt Berryman, the group’s director of legislative affairs, is an attorney, that does not make the dealer group’s records subject to attorney-client privilege, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody said in an 11-page opinion. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Judge: Tesla can view records lobbyist wanted kept secret," 6 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Consider what happened to the price of washing machines that were subjected to a separate series of Trump tariffs in January. Paul Wiseman And Josh Boak,, "U.S.-China trade war could drive prices up and growth down," 6 July 2018 Consider what happened to the price of washing machines, that were subjected to a separate series of Trump tariffs in January. NBC News, "China says it must 'counterattack' after U.S. tariff hike officially takes effect," 6 July 2018 Rizzo praised the Stoneman Douglas students for persisting in the face of harsh criticism and lashed out at the vitriol that some have been subjected to. Craig Davis,, "Anthony Rizzo lauds Stoneman Douglas activists: 'I think it’s a little too easy to get a gun'," 29 Mar. 2018 Slovenia is undoubtedly not one of my fondest trips to recall, simply due to the hours of abject misery I was subjected to throughout my time there., "90Min World Cup Fan Diaries: Starting to Believe," 8 July 2018 And before they’re subjected to a win-at-all-costs system of regimented practices, league standings and parents screaming from the sidelines. Mark Zeigler,, "What's changed since U.S. failed to qualify for 2018 World Cup? Sadly, nothing," 11 June 2018 Women who are stressed, or in difficult relationships, or who are being subjected to domestic violence, tend to drink more. SELF, "Why Are More Women Ending Up in the ER for Alcohol-Related Causes?," 23 May 2018 Speak up if you or anyone else is subjected to inappropriate behavior or harassment for any reason. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Phoenix Comic Fest guide: Here's how to navigate the event like a superhero," 16 May 2018 In November, Allegheny County agreed to stop holding pregnant women in solitary as part of a settlement with the five women who’d been subjected to the practice and were represented by the ACLU and other legal advocates. Samantha Melamed,, "'I felt like a caged animal.' Pa. woman claims jail illegally shackled her during labor," 10 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of subject


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

History and Etymology for subject


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

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Statistics for subject

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subject

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

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More Definitions for subject



English Language Learners Definition of subject

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the person or thing that is being discussed or described

: an area of knowledge that is studied in school

: a person or thing that is being dealt with in a particular way



English Language Learners Definition of subject (Entry 2 of 2)

: under the control of a ruler


sub·ject | \ˈsəb-jikt \

Kids Definition of subject

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the person or thing discussed : topic She's the subject of rumors. Let's change the subject.

2 : an area of knowledge that is studied in school Geography is my favorite subject.

3 : a person who owes loyalty to a monarch or state

4 : a person under the authority or control of another

5 : the word or group of words about which the predicate makes a statement

6 : a person or animal that is studied or experimented on



Kids Definition of subject (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : owing obedience or loyalty to another The people were subject to their king.

2 : possible or likely to be affected by The schedule is subject to change. The area is subject to flooding.

3 : depending on I'll send the samples subject to your approval.


sub·ject | \səb-ˈjekt \
subjected; subjecting

Kids Definition of subject (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : to bring under control or rule The Romans subjected much of Europe.

2 : to cause to put up with My parents are unwilling to subject us to embarrassment.


sub·ject | \ˈsəb-jikt \

Medical Definition of subject 

1 : an individual whose reactions or responses are studied

2 : a dead body for anatomical study and dissection

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sub·ject | \ˈsəb-ˌjekt \

Legal Definition of subject 

: 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

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