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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. See defeat. 3. tame, break, discipline. 3, 4. suppress.
4. awaken, arouse. 6. intensify. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for subdue
  • Fortunately, it is not intended to subdue humans, but to allow them to control their environments better.
  • Controlling natural processes is often less hazardous than trying to subdue them entirely.
  • It would subdue demand here where growth is low and leave more supply for the developing world where growth is higher.
  • As this process takes place, it will continue to subdue wage growth and global inflation.
  • The oldest profession predates history, and laws designed to subdue it have rarely proved effective.
  • The researchers suggest it instead caused rapid shock, allowing the dinosaur to subdue its prey.
  • They would be the same and not the same, and among them some might fool and subdue the pathogens that threaten our well-being.
  • We didn't have to use non-lethal shotgun rounds to subdue our detainees.
  • Motivated by individual greed, they turn on one another until they unite to subdue a stranger prone to violence.
  • Carter's mission is to somehow secretly board the sub, sabotage it and subdue the hijackers.
British Dictionary definitions for subdue


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 subdue

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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