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[suh b-doo, -dyoo] /səbˈdu, -ˈdyu/
verb (used with object), subdued, subduing.
to conquer and bring into subjection:
Rome subdued Gaul.
to overpower by superior force; overcome.
to bring under mental or emotional control, as by persuasion or intimidation; render submissive.
to repress (feelings, impulses, etc.).
to bring (land) under cultivation:
to subdue the wilderness.
to reduce the intensity, force, or vividness of (sound, light, color, etc.); tone down; soften.
to allay (inflammation, infection, etc.).
Origin of subdue
1350-1400; Middle English so(b)duen, so(b)dewen < Anglo-French *soduer to overcome, Old French soduire to deceive, seduce < Latin subdūcere to withdraw (see subduct); meaning in E (and Anglo-French) < Latin subdere to place beneath, subdue
Related forms
subduable, adjective
subduableness, noun
subduably, adverb
subduer, noun
subduingly, adverb
presubdue, verb (used with object), presubdued, presubduing.
unsubduable, adjective
1. subjugate, vanquish. 3. tame, break, discipline. 3, 4. suppress.
4. awaken, arouse. 6. intensify.
Synonym Study
1. See defeat. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for subduing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Adversity vexed and irritated, instead of calming and subduing her.

    Queen Elizabeth Jacob Abbott
  • There never was any question of subduing Salome; it was a question of subduing Atland!

    The Story of a Play W. D. Howells
  • At the rate he was subduing me, he must have felt that it would be a long job.

    Down The River Oliver Optic
  • I have only one means of subduing that savage beast you sold me, you egregious cheat.

    The Brass Bell Eugne Sue
  • Soon the spade, the plough, and the axe began their subduing work.

    Six Months at the Cape R.M. Ballantyne
  • That subduing alliance was to be found, in perfection, in the person of Mrs Causand.

    Rattlin the Reefer Edward Howard
  • He said all you wanted to do, in subduing the spirit of animals, was to gain their confidence.

    Peck's Sunshine George W. Peck
  • I fairly ground my teeth, subduing the rage and contempt that shook me.

    The Reckoning Robert W. Chambers
  • But emotions are only partially suppressed by subduing their expression.

British Dictionary definitions for subduing


verb (transitive) -dues, -duing, -dued
to establish ascendancy over by force
to overcome and bring under control, as by intimidation or persuasion
to hold in check or repress (feelings, emotions, etc)
to render less intense or less conspicuous
Derived Forms
subduable, adjective
subduably, adverb
subdual, noun
Word Origin
C14 sobdue, from Old French soduire to mislead, from Latin subdūcere to remove; English sense influenced by Latin subdere to subject
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for subduing



late 14c., "to conquer," from Old French souduire "deceive, seduce," from Latin subducere "draw, lead away, withdraw" (see subduce). The sense seems to have been taken in Anglo-French from Latin subdere. Subduct in the sense of "subtract" is from 1570s. Related: Subdued; subduing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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