Printable Version
Pronunciation: sêb-dyu Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: Overcome, conquer, to bring under control.

Notes: English has another verb, subduct "remove, subtract", from the same source as subdue. The noun for subduct is subduction; the Latinate noun for subdue is the rarely used: subduement. We always have the present participle, subduing, that we may use as an adjective or noun, as 'the subduing of emotional reactions.'

In Play: This verb is sometimes used in the sense "to physically overcome": "Islamic terrorism seems to survive all efforts to subdue it." It may also be used abstractly: "Try as he may, Kent Waite could not subdue his joy at the sight of Maxine."

Word History: In Middle English today's word was subduen, an Anglicization of Anglo-Norman suduire "to restrain, control" from Latin subducere "to take away, remove". This verb is composed of sub "under, below" + ducere "to lead, put". The Latin verb came from Proto-Indo-European deuk- "to lead, drag", which also went into the making of Latin dux [duk-s], ducis "leader" and English duke. English borrowed a wheelbarrow load of words with Latin duc-, pronounced many different ways: educ-ate, conduct, deduce, among others. The same PIE word prospered in the Germanic languages, too; English tow and tug come from Old English togian "to draw, drag". German zucken [tsuken] "to shrug, twitch", Zügel "reins", and Zug "train" share the same origin.

Dr. Goodword,

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