Synonyms & Antonyms of subdue

1 to achieve a victory over
  • subdued her fear of the dark by joining a club for spelunkers

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2 to bring under one's control by force of arms
  • subdued the rebels and sent their leaders to the gallows

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3 to put a stop to (something) by the use of force
  • labored through the night to subdue the river's rising waters by building a wall of sandbags around their property

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Frequently Asked Questions About subdue

How does the verb subdue differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of subdue are conquer, defeat, overcome, overthrow, reduce, and vanquish. While all these words mean "to get the better of by force or strategy," subdue implies a defeating and suppression.

subdued the native tribes after years of fighting

When is conquer a more appropriate choice than subdue?

While the synonyms conquer and subdue are close in meaning, conquer implies gaining mastery of.

Caesar conquered Gaul

How do defeat and vanquish relate to one another, in the sense of subdue?

Defeat does not imply the finality or completeness of vanquish which it otherwise equals.

the Confederates defeated the Union forces at Manassas

When can overcome be used instead of subdue?

The words overcome and subdue are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, overcome suggests getting the better of with difficulty or after hard struggle.

overcame a host of bureaucratic roadblocks

Where would overthrow be a reasonable alternative to subdue?

Although the words overthrow and subdue have much in common, overthrow stresses the bringing down or destruction of existing power.

violently overthrew the old regime

In what contexts can reduce take the place of subdue?

While in some cases nearly identical to subdue, reduce implies a forcing to capitulate or surrender.

the city was reduced after a month-long siege

When would vanquish be a good substitute for subdue?

The words vanquish and subdue can be used in similar contexts, but vanquish implies a complete overpowering.

vanquished the enemy and ended the war

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Time Traveler for subdue

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Subdue.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on subdue

Nglish: Translation of subdue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subdue for Arabic Speakers


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