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[suhb-doo, -dyoo]
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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

Synonyms for subdue

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Synonym study

1. See defeat.

Antonyms for subdue

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

Related Words for subduing

crush, suppress, humble, tame, overpower, quell, restrain, conquer, extinguish, repress, temper, overcome, control, discipline, quench, drop, reduce, quiet, soften, break

Examples from the Web for subduing

Contemporary Examples of subduing

Historical Examples of subduing

  • 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.

  • Soon the spade, the plough, and the axe began their subduing work.

    Six Months at the Cape

    R.M. Ballantyne

British Dictionary definitions for subduing


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 for subdue

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 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper