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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As Sweeny and her colleagues had hypothesized, the subjects in the first group were far more likely to achieve a state of flow and, therefore, experienced less anxiety and stress. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Study: Tetris is a great distraction for easing an anxious mind," 2 Nov. 2018 Not if the subjects at hand are Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Gwyneth Paltrow Shares a Mom-Daughter Selfie With Apple—And They’re Practically Twins," 26 Sep. 2018 The paper's own reporters in position of trying to uncover the identity of the source and the subjects are their own colleagues. Fox News, "Washington plays guessing game over New York Times op-ed," 7 Sep. 2018 But at the same time, the subjects are your friends. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "How Minding the Gap went from skateboard documentary to a raw look at domestic abuse," 17 Aug. 2018 In a narrower test, Dutch subjects were unable to identify even the laughs of other Dutchmen. Popular Mechanics, "Can You Tell Someone's Nationality From Their Laugh?," 9 Aug. 2018 Were his words omens that the controversial site itself would be the subject of a future indictment? Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "Indicting 12 Russian Hackers Could Be Mueller's Biggest Move Yet," 13 July 2018 But the Brazilian's future in France is already the subject of much speculation and Real are known to hold major interest in the player after trying to sign him on more than one occasion in the past., "PSG 'Willing to Offer' Neymar Enormous Pay Rise to Ward Off Interest From Real Madrid," 13 July 2018 The Haitian artist is the subject of a solo exhibition at the museum that explores the nature of domestic gardens and other outdoor spaces as mini-utopias. Carolina A. Miranda,, "Datebook: Shots of old Route 66, dreamlike paintings and garments fashioned from paper," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Only rarely will the subject line on an email pitch entice me enough to click. Amanda Schupak, SELF, "The Exquisite, Painful Irony of Being a Health Editor With Breast Cancer During Breast Cancer Awareness Month," 19 Oct. 2018 Oil glands, no matter where there are on your body, are subject to clogging, says Parks. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "Ear Pimples Are Real — Here's How to Get Rid of Them," 19 Sep. 2018 Basil can be subject to various fungal diseases, including Fusarium wilt, gray mold, and black spot, as well as damping-off in seedlings. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow Basil for Your Best Pesto Yet," 20 Aug. 2018 Pushing the $200-per-person threshold, flights are subject to weather conditions and operate only seasonally. Peter Reese, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Way To Spend 72 Hours at Jackson Hole," 31 July 2018 Reward tickets are subject to blackout dates, and reward seating may be limited on particular flights. Ryan Craggs, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Frequent Flier and Airline Rewards Programs in the U.S.," 27 July 2018 The Prosecutor’s Office said anyone who wished to submit an anonymous tip could download the CCPOTIP App, text 847411 with the subject line CCPOTIP, or visit the office’s Facebook page or website. Max Cohen,, "$1,000 reward offered for clues in death of South Jersey woman who was dismembered and burned," 11 July 2018 Please put Season of the Arts in the subject line of your email. Jane Wooldridge, miamiherald, "Deadline for Season of the Arts is approaching. Here's how to get included.," 10 July 2018 Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser and an immigration hard-liner, revived the zero-tolerance proposal: anyone caught crossing the border without authorization would be subject to prosecution and jailed to await trial. Molly Ball, Time, "Trump Backed Down, But the Crisis at the Border Is Far From Over," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Mihrigul Tursun, speaking to reporters in Washington, said she was interrogated for four days in a row without sleep, had her hair shaved and was subjected to an intrusive medical examination following her second arrest in China in 2017. Maria Danilova, The Seattle Times, "Woman describes torture, beatings in Chinese detention camp," 27 Nov. 2018 Chevron’s joint ventures with the state oil company are regularly subjected to what Venezuelan prosecutors have labeled corrupt overcharging by vendors. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Chevron Stayed in Venezuela Long After Rivals Quit. Then It Had Second Thoughts.," 8 Nov. 2018 Passengers carrying larger amounts of powders including food, ground coffee, or cosmetics could have their bags opened and the powder subjected to a test for explosives., "SHYFT Analytics to be acquird by New York company," 21 June 2018 Wilkins' lawsuit follows one filed in federal court last month by three three former Houston Texans cheerleaders, who claimed they were subjected to harassment and were not paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. A.j. Perez, USA TODAY, "Ex-Cowboys cheerleader claims in lawsuit she was paid fraction of what mascot earned," 13 June 2018 He is also accused by several witnesses of rounding up migrants at sea and taking them to the notorious al-Nasr detention center, where they are said to be held in brutal conditions and subjected to beatings. Nima Elbagir And Lauren Said-moorhouse, CNN, "Unprecedented UN sanctions slapped on 'millionaire migrant traffickers'," 7 June 2018 Non-Hispanic employees were not similarly harassed or subjected to the no Spanish policy, the lawsuit said. Morgan Cook,, "Regulators sue Albertsons for allegedly banning employees from speaking Spanish in front of non-Spanish speakers," 4 May 2018 Besides enduring treacherous journeys to America’s farms and slaughterhouses, foreign workers are also subjected to atrocious working conditions, suffering in secret. Gene Baur, Fortune, "Immigrant Farm Workers Endure Inhumane Conditions. Here’s What We Can Do," 8 June 2018 Throughout his career he has been accused of conspiratorial thinking, subjected to anti-semitic insults (from Eugene McCarthy’s wife, for example), and suspected of communist sympathies. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Seymour Hersh Weekly," 1 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subject

Statistics for subject

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subject

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more


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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on subject

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subject

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subject

Spanish Central: Translation of subject

Nglish: Translation of subject for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subject for Arabic Speakers

Comments on subject

What made you want to look up subject? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

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!