from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To conquer and subjugate; vanquish. See Synonyms at defeat.
  • transitive v. To quiet or bring under control by physical force or persuasion; make tractable.
  • transitive v. To make less intense or prominent; tone down: subdued my excitement about the upcoming holiday.
  • transitive v. To bring (land) under cultivation: Farmers subdued the arid lands of Australia.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To overcome, quieten, or bring under control.
  • v. To bring (a country) under control by force.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To bring under; to conquer by force or the exertion of superior power, and bring into permanent subjection; to reduce under dominion; to vanquish.
  • transitive v. To overpower so as to disable from further resistance; to crush.
  • transitive v. To destroy the force of; to overcome.
  • transitive v. To render submissive; to bring under command; to reduce to mildness or obedience; to tame.
  • transitive v. To overcome, as by persuasion or other mild means.
  • transitive v. To reduce to tenderness; to melt; to soften.
  • transitive v. To make mellow; to break, as land; also, to destroy, as weeds.
  • transitive v. To reduce the intensity or degree of; to tone down; to soften.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To conquer and bring into permanent subjection; reduce under dominion.
  • To overpower by superior force; gain the victory over; bring under; vanquish; crush.
  • To prevail over by some mild or softening influence; influence by association; assimilate; overcome, as by kindness, persuasion, entreaty, or other mild means; gain complete sway over; melt.
  • To bring down; reduce.
  • To tone down; soften; make less striking or harsh, as in sound, illumination, or color: in this sense generally in the past participle: as, subdued colors; a subdued light.
  • To improve by cultivation; make mellow; break, as land.
  • Synonyms and Vanquish, Subjugate, etc. (see conquer), crush, quell.
  • To soften.
  • n. Subjugation; conquest.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. get on top of; deal with successfully
  • v. to put down by force or authority
  • v. put down by force or intimidation
  • v. correct by punishment or discipline
  • v. hold within limits and control
  • v. make subordinate, dependent, or subservient


Middle English subduen, alteration (influenced by Latin subdere, to subject) of Old French suduire, to seduce, from Latin subdūcere, to withdraw (probably influenced by Latin sēdūcere, to seduce) : sub-, away; see sub- + dūcere, to lead.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • But the harsh facts of human history belie this benign revisionist interpretation of the meaning of "subdue," and the preponderance of unambiguous passages in the Bible giving mankind dominion over nature's bounty argue against any idea that religion is environmentalism in disguise.

    Jeff Schweitzer: A New Environmental Ethic

  • Humans are told to "subdue" the earth and "rule over" the air, land and sea.

    Jeff Schweitzer: Climate Change and Christian Values

  • But the harsh facts of human history belie this benign revisionist interpretation of the meaning of "subdue".

    Jeff Schweitzer: Climate Change and Christian Values

  • But the harsh facts of human history belie this benign revisionist interpretation of the meaning of "subdue" and "rule over."

    Jeff Schweitzer: A Failure of Morality

  • A kid lying on the ground with a broken back was allegedly saying "shoot cops, kill cops" so they had to taser him 19 times to "subdue" him.


  • Would you be so kind as to describe how one person might "subdue" another person by the written use of a particular word or words?

    Banning some words HERE on This Website

  • Is allegedly* hit by Police in an attempt to "subdue" her.


  • Chapter 1's command that humanity "subdue" the earth and "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth" now yields to chapter 2's description of Adam's mission "to dress . . . and to keep" the garden of Eden.

    Mother superior

  • The man accused of this murder had previously used ether and other chemicals to "subdue" women so that he could "perform sex acts on them," according to the local paper.

    Archive 2006-10-01

  • Cops are using it to "subdue" people who are not carrying weapons and present no threat.



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