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

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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

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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 The former signifies that Communists and authoritarians subjugate entire populations. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 July 2021 From the late 8th century to the 11th, pagan Danes, Norwegians and Swedes sailed south in their longboats to make hit-and-run raids along the coasts of Europe, seize new territory and subjugate the locals. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 23 June 2021 The idea of a white race was invented to create a narrative, and to enshrine into law the rights, the superiority, and the access to opportunity and resources for people racialized as white, and to subjugate Black people. Suyin Haynes, Time, 22 June 2021 Critical race theory threatens the U.S. military’s mission of defending in combat the Constitution and our way of life from enemies who would destroy and subjugate us. Tom Cotton, National Review, 1 Apr. 2021 Because while much has been done to subjugate and disrupt Puerto Rico, its spirit remains. New York Times, 22 Mar. 2021 Dvorkin appears determined to subjugate all other forms of religious association to the dominance of the pro-Putin, statist wing of the Russian Orthodox Church. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, 20 Mar. 2021 The force, with its numerous branches, including the DCI, has not been significantly reformed since colonial times, Kinoti acknowledged, back when British overlords used it to subjugate rebellions. Max Bearak, Washington Post, 1 Mar. 2021 The English, with a great deal of Native assistance, won this contest and did indeed subjugate the Indian survivors, many of whose ancestors remain in southern New England to this day. National Geographic, 19 Nov. 2020

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.

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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

16 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subjugate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for subjugate



English Language Learners Definition of subjugate

formal : to defeat and gain control of (someone or something) by the use of force : to conquer and gain the obedience of (a group of people, a country, etc.)

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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