• synonyms


[suh b-dood, -dyood]
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  1. quiet; inhibited; repressed; controlled: After the argument he was much more subdued.
  2. lowered in intensity or strength; reduced in fullness of tone, as a color or voice; muted: subdued light; wallpaper in subdued greens.
  3. (of land) not marked by any striking features, as mountains or cliffs: a subdued landscape.
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Origin of subdued

First recorded in 1595–1605; subdue + -ed2
Related formssub·dued·ly, adverbsub·dued·ness, nounhalf-sub·dued, adjectiveself-sub·dued, adjectiveun·sub·dued, adjective


[suhb-doo, -dyoo]
verb (used with object), sub·dued, sub·du·ing.
  1. to conquer and bring into subjection: Rome subdued Gaul.
  2. to overpower by superior force; overcome.
  3. to bring under mental or emotional control, as by persuasion or intimidation; render submissive.
  4. to repress (feelings, impulses, etc.).
  5. to bring (land) under cultivation: to subdue the wilderness.
  6. to reduce the intensity, force, or vividness of (sound, light, color, etc.); tone down; soften.
  7. to allay (inflammation, infection, etc.).
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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 formssub·du·a·ble, adjectivesub·du·a·ble·ness, nounsub·du·a·bly, adverbsub·du·er, nounsub·du·ing·ly, adverbpre·sub·due, verb (used with object), pre·sub·dued, pre·sub·du·ing.un·sub·du·a·ble, adjective


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Synonym study

1. See defeat.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for subdued

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Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for subdued


  1. cowed, passive, or shy
  2. gentle or quieta subdued whisper
  3. (of colours, etc) not harsh or brightsubdued lighting
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Derived Formssubduedly, adverbsubduedness, noun


verb -dues, -duing or -dued (tr)
  1. to establish ascendancy over by force
  2. to overcome and bring under control, as by intimidation or persuasion
  3. to hold in check or repress (feelings, emotions, etc)
  4. to render less intense or less conspicuous
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Derived Formssubduable, adjectivesubduably, adverbsubdual, 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

Word Origin and History for subdued


c.1600, "subjugated," past participle adjective from subdue. Meaning "calmed down, reduced in intensity" is recorded from 1822.

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper