subject

noun
sub·​ject | \ ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio) , -(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
(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

subject

adjective

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

subject

verb
sub·​ject | \ səb-ˈjekt How to pronounce subject (audio) , 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

Other Words from subject

Noun

subjectless \ ˈsəb-​jikt-​ləs How to pronounce subject (audio) , -​(ˌ)jekt-​ \ adjective

Verb

subjection \ səb-​ˈjek-​shən How to pronounce subject (audio) \ 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

Examples of subject in a Sentence

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 While walking in the park, the victim had what appeared to be a confrontation with at least one other subject. Louis Casiano, Fox News, 28 July 2022 Instagram owner Meta is forming an advisory board composed of top entertainment executives, managers and publicists, according to a person familiar with the subject who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Taylor Lorenz, Anchorage Daily News, 27 July 2022 Instagram owner Meta is forming an advisory board composed of top entertainment executives, managers and publicists, according to a person familiar with the subject who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Taylor Lorenz, Washington Post, 27 July 2022 But the meeting was abruptly canceled less than 24 hours from when the subject was first floated in City Hall, those sources said. Alison Dirr, Journal Sentinel, 26 July 2022 Philpot’s most frequent Black subject was Henry Thomas, a Jamaican man who met the painter in 1929 and became his servant and muse until Philpot died in 1937. New York Times, 26 July 2022 For an academic whose subject was historic musicology, Taruskin made a considerable splash as a public intellectual who published extensively in the New York Times, the New Republic and elsewhere. Los Angeles Times, 26 July 2022 That multi-year research brought the Clemency filmmaker in close contact with Till's producer-star Whoopi Goldberg, as well as the subject's surviving family members. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, 25 July 2022 Diver’s next piece of advice may sound counterintuitive given the subject of his book. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, 25 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Her sentiment is a common one, but the most comprehensive academic studies on the subject show that utility-scale solar has not had a major effect on property values. Dan Gearino, ABC News, 29 July 2022 The inspections were halted in February for about 10 days after one of the U.S. inspectors was threatened in Michoacan, where growers are routinely subject to extortion by drug cartels. Mark Stevenson, ajc, 28 July 2022 Mainstream opposition organizations generally disavow such activities, while supporting armed resistance in rural areas that are more often subject to brutal military attacks. David Rising And Eileen Ng, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 July 2022 On Thursday, the district reported 233 vacant positions, 110 of which were in the core subject areas, The Advocate reported. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 25 July 2022 Mainstream opposition organizations generally disavow such activities, while supporting armed resistance in rural areas that are more often subject to brutal military attacks. David Rising, Anchorage Daily News, 25 July 2022 The Mediterranean is the theme of the third floor, and is the subject most in sync with Villa Paloma’s locale, through whose windows one sees only endless expanses of blue sea and sky. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, 21 July 2022 There’s no better subject for that than the people and places who made him. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, 19 July 2022 What makes this subject especially tricky is even wilderness supporters acknowledge there are still bad actors in their industry. Tara Bannow, STAT, 18 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Fed is considering adopting a system that would subject firms that are not federally insured or federally regulated to stricter scrutiny. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, 3 July 2022 Ukrainian civilians who have been hammered by weeks of Russian strikes are increasingly fearful that Russia could use Victory Day to subject them to even more deadly attacks. New York Times, 4 May 2022 Violation could subject doctors, hospitals or clinics to the loss of the Medicare privileges or to civil penalties, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2022 Another is an extensive internal process, over which Rao presides, to subject new Adobe features and products to rigorous ethics reviews – a process that sometimes prevents the work of Adobe engineering teams from being released to the public. Aayushi Pratap, Forbes, 29 June 2022 The Canadian legislation aims to subject U.S. tech giants and other foreign players to the same content expenditures obligations as traditional broadcasters. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 June 2022 The agreement includes enhanced background checks to subject gun buyers 21 and younger to scrutiny of their criminal and mental health records as juveniles. Ariana Garcia, Chron, 13 June 2022 Lawmakers in Jerusalem are deadlocked on renewing the arrangement in a schism that could dissolve the unusual two-tiered legal system and subject the West Bank’s Israelis to the same martial law as their Palestinian neighbors. Shira Rubin, Washington Post, 12 June 2022 Under most circumstances, researchers would need to subject an object to ludicrous accelerations—upward of 25 quintillion times the force of Earth’s gravity—in order to produce a measurable emission. Joanna Thompson, Scientific American, 20 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.

First Known Use of subject

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

History and Etymology for subject

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

Learn More About subject

Time Traveler for subject

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near subject

subjacent

subject

subjectable

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for subject

Last Updated

30 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Subject.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subject. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for subject

subject

noun
sub·​ject | \ ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio) \

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

subject

adjective

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.

subject

verb
sub·​ject | \ səb-ˈjekt How to pronounce subject (audio) \
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.

subject

noun
sub·​ject | \ ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio) \

Medical Definition of subject

1 : an individual whose reactions or responses are studied
2 : a dead body for anatomical study and dissection

subject

noun
sub·​ject | \ ˈsəb-ˌjekt How to pronounce subject (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on subject

Nglish: Translation of subject for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subject for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!