subject

1 of 3

noun

sub·​ject ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio)
-(ˌ)jekt
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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: a department of knowledge or learning
b
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
subjectless
ˈsəb-jikt-ləs How to pronounce subject (audio)
-(ˌ)jekt-
adjective

subject

2 of 3

adjective

1
: owing obedience or allegiance to the power or dominion of another
2
a
: 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

3 of 3

verb

sub·​ject səb-ˈjekt How to pronounce subject (audio)
ˈsəb-ˌjekt
subjected; subjecting; subjects

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
subjection 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

Example Sentences

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
These very wigs have been the subject of museum exhibitions and have been called works of art. Nadja Sayej, Forbes, 28 Jan. 2023 In February 2022, a search warrant affidavit filed in U.S. District Court said Yang was the subject of a criminal investigation for alleged money laundering and wire fraud. Tom Daykin, Journal Sentinel, 28 Jan. 2023 Goodman’s enviable roster of artists includes William Kentridge, the South African filmmaker who is the subject of a major retrospective at the Broad in LA through April 9. Julie Belcove, Robb Report, 28 Jan. 2023 That attack, carried out by an apparent right-wing extremist, had been the subject of grotesque jokes and lurid, baseless speculations from some of his wife’s political enemies. A.o. Scott, New York Times, 28 Jan. 2023 Murdaugh also is the subject of other state investigations and has been indicted on roughly 100 additional charges. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 27 Jan. 2023 Former South Carolina governor and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been the subject of attacks and criticism from their fellow Republicans and their staff over the past few weeks. Hannah Demissie, ABC News, 27 Jan. 2023 Maroney secured a stay last fall in that litigation after disclosing that the same matters are the subject of an active criminal probe. Emma Brown, Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2023 While the Thrifty Food Plan may be a subject of negotiations in the farm bill, Vollinger argued that the cost of SNAP was still relatively low. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 27 Jan. 2023
Adjective
But approval will require member states to make good on promises made last year to hike mandatory fees - a fact which is uncertain since the deal was always subject to conditions. Fox News, 30 Jan. 2023 If students bring lunch items to school, they will be run through a metal detector and are subject to search, the email says. Nicole Grether, CNN, 30 Jan. 2023 Also, benefits started before full retirement age are subject to the earnings test, which withholds $1 for every $2 earned over a certain amount ($21,240 in 2023). Liz Weston, oregonlive, 29 Jan. 2023 Rollovers are subject to the annual Roth IRA contribution limit. Chris Carosa, Forbes, 28 Jan. 2023 And in a note Friday, Francis recalled that even that black-and-white teaching is subject to circumstances that might eliminate the sin altogether. Nicole Winfield, BostonGlobe.com, 28 Jan. 2023 Messitt used a four-pronged legal assessment, known as the Telford test, to judge whether the private school was subject to public records. Lulu Ramadan, ProPublica, 27 Jan. 2023 Former President Jimmy Carter, who turned 98 last October, and his administration are not subject to the request because the Presidential Records Act did not go into effect until January 1981. Katherine Faulders, ABC News, 27 Jan. 2023 Its official start is subject to the sighting of the first new moon over Mecca, and so Ramadan begins and ends at different times around the world. Juliana Labianca, Good Housekeeping, 26 Jan. 2023
Verb
The hearing marks the first of many attempts to take aim at the Biden administration, as the new House Republican majority looks to wield its power — and subject the White House to uncomfortable political probes. Tony Romm, Washington Post, 13 Jan. 2023 Why else would a former demigoddess willfully subject herself to such indignities, just to send a KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP! Heather Havrilesky, New York Times, 17 Dec. 2022 Any damage could subject the lessee to additional fines and penalties. Elizabeth Rivelli, Car and Driver, 10 Nov. 2022 The bill would subject them to Federal Reserve oversight and reserve requirements to protect customers in case of insolvency-- exactly the kind of regulation Fed Chair Powell urged for on Tuesday. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 28 Sep. 2022 The stated rationale would presumably subject the promotion of a literary classic like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye to a similar ban. Tatiana Siegel, Rolling Stone, 14 Sep. 2022 Failure to comply with the smoking prohibition will subject unit owners to significant fines and other remedies. Howard Dakoff, Chicago Tribune, 21 Aug. 2022 That would subject bitcoin and ethereum to regulation by the CFTC, which already oversees futures markets for both. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2022 That would subject bitcoin and ethereum to regulation by the CFTC, which already oversees futures markets for both. BostonGlobe.com, 3 Aug. 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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near subject

Cite this Entry

“Subject.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subject. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

subject

1 of 3 noun
sub·​ject ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio)
1
a
: a person under the authority or control of another
b
: a person who owes loyalty to a monarch or state
2
a
: a department of knowledge or learning
b
: an individual (as a person or a mouse) that is studied or experimented on
c
: the person or thing discussed : topic
the subject of an essay
3
: a noun or term functioning as a noun about which something is stated in the predicate of a sentence
"child" in "the child threw the ball" is the subject

subject

2 of 3 adjective
1
: owing obedience or loyalty to another
2
a
: likely to be affected by
subject to temptation
b
: having a tendency
subject to catching colds
3
: depending on
subject to your approval

subject

3 of 3 verb
sub·​ject səb-ˈjekt How to pronounce subject (audio)
1
a
: to bring under control or rule
b
: to make responsive to the discipline and control of a superior
2
: to make likely
his poor conduct subjected him to criticism
3
: to cause or force to put up with something difficult, unpleasant, or inconvenient
unwilling to subject us to embarrassment
subjection noun

Medical Definition

subject

noun
sub·​ject ˈsəb-jikt How to pronounce subject (audio)
1
: an individual whose reactions or responses are studied
2
: a dead body for anatomical study and dissection

Legal Definition

subject

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

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