Synonyms & Antonyms of subject

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 a major object of interest or concern (as in a discussion or artistic composition)
  • the subject of our discussion switched from who would be the next president to who was the greatest president in the nation's history

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2 a person who owes allegiance to a government and is protected by it
  • because of the tense situation in that country, British subjects were advised to return home as soon as possible

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3 something (as a belief) that serves as the basis for another thing
  • he has no subject to protest this time, but that's never stopped him before

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Synonyms & Antonyms of subject (Entry 2 of 3)

to bring under one's control by force of arms
  • Attila the Hun subjected most of Europe to his barbaric pillage

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Synonyms & Antonyms of subject (Entry 3 of 3)

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About subject

How is the word subject distinct from other similar nouns?

The words citizen and national are common synonyms of subject. While all three words mean "a person owing allegiance to and entitled to the protection of a sovereign state," subject implies allegiance to a personal sovereign such as a monarch.

the king's subjects

When would citizen be a good substitute for subject?

In some situations, the words citizen and subject are roughly equivalent. However, 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

When is national a more appropriate choice than subject?

The synonyms national and subject are sometimes interchangeable, but 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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Subject.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on subject

Nglish: Translation of subject for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of subject for Arabic Speakers


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