sub·​ju·​gate | \ ˈsəb-ji-ˌgāt How to pronounce subjugate (audio) \
subjugated; subjugating

Definition of subjugate

transitive verb

1 : to bring under control and governance as a subject : conquer
2 : to make submissive : subdue

Other Words from subjugate

subjugation \ ˌsəb-​ji-​ˈgā-​shən How to pronounce subjugate (audio) \ noun
subjugator \ ˈsəb-​ji-​ˌgā-​tər How to pronounce subjugate (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

Since jugus means "yoke" in Latin, subjugate means literally "bring under the yoke". Farmers control oxen by means of a heavy wooden yoke over their shoulders. In ancient Rome, conquered soldiers, stripped of their uniforms, might actually be forced to pass under an ox yoke as a sign of submission to the Roman victors. Even without an actual yoke, what happens to a population that has come under the control of another can be every bit as humiliating. In dozens of countries throughout the world, ethnic minorities are denied basic rights and view themselves as subjugated by their country's government, army, and police.

Examples of subjugate in a Sentence

The emperor's armies subjugated the surrounding lands. a people subjugated by invaders
Recent Examples on the Web Rape has been used as a weapon of war throughout history — whether to subjugate, terrorize or ethnically cleanse populations. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, 8 June 2022 However, its objective was never to conquer Ukraine conventionally — 200,000 men was grossly insufficient to subjugate the largest country wholly in Europe. Seth Cropsey, National Review, 20 July 2022 What is new is that this tactic is not being deployed to subjugate the country under attack, but to hurt the world's most vulnerable to create political leverage for Russia. Tim Benton, CNN, 13 July 2022 With these limitations, the Russian military, especially in conjunction with paramilitary groups, use fear and intimidation to subjugate the local populations. Vikram Mittal, Forbes, 15 Aug. 2022 This is remarkable, considering how relentlessly white Christians continue to subjugate and silence Black bodies in churches, schools, and public life. Audrey Clare Farley, The New Republic, 30 May 2022 Robb Elementary School, the site of the massacre, was a flashpoint in the local resistance against a white minority rule that used law enforcement and policies to segregate and subjugate Latino and Latinas. Palabra, al, 7 June 2022 Always deliberating, reasoning, establishing and applying standards, demanding consistency from oneself and others, making every attempt to subjugate instinct to reason—all these might make life still harder to navigate. Willing Davidson, The New Yorker, 30 May 2022 Such an attack would be both embarrassing and potentially provocative to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in his troubled military campaign to subjugate Ukraine. New York Times, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of subjugate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for subjugate

Middle English, from Latin subjugatus, past participle of subjugare, from sub- + jugum yoke — more at yoke

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The first known use of subjugate was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Subjugate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on subjugate

Nglish: Translation of subjugate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subjugate for Arabic Speakers


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