Definition of subject in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈsʌbdʒɪkt//ˈsʌbdʒɛkt/


  • 1A person or thing that is being discussed, described, or dealt with.

    ‘I've said all there is to be said on the subject’
    ‘he's the subject of a major new biography’
    • ‘Find something that you think would make a good subject and submit a proposal.’
    • ‘With that as his last statement on the subject, suddenly, he too was racing out the door.’
    • ‘When I went to the library to see if there was anything on the subject there was very little.’
    • ‘We welcome proposals suggesting new subjects for review essays, both within and across disciplines.’
    • ‘Rowlands tried but failed to secure an emergency parliamentary statement on the subject.’
    • ‘They have a guest speaker at their monthly meetings, dealing with subjects diverse and interesting.’
    • ‘In the beginning, conditions in the camp were tolerable and some prisoners, being specialists in certain fields, would entertain themselves by lecturing to others on diverse subjects.’
    • ‘Since all three of these surfaces have been subjects of projects for me, I could not resist the temptation to illustrate The Proof of Archytas.’
    • ‘Indeed, throughout the book there is the recurrent suggestion that a grand connection between the two subjects will be revealed.’
    • ‘Mr Smith should present reasoned arguments, not use broad sweeping statements about subjects which it seems he does not fully understand.’
    • ‘But too often he speaks his mind on subjects best left alone, and he will undoubtedly upset someone, somewhere.’
    • ‘Another indication may be whether I am asked to speak about a subject that involves this statement.’
    • ‘Most mathematicians study the subject because they develop such a deep love of the topic.’
    • ‘It seems clear from the responses that we prefer to put to the backs of our minds unpalatable subjects such as injury, death, being left without a partner or our children being orphaned.’
    • ‘They do this because they think one should discuss questions about goodness, justice and expediency in this place which was founded by the man who made all these subjects his business.’
    • ‘Anything written on the subject is now a look back at a historical event.’
    • ‘The Musical Times is a quarterly journal that considers for publication articles on a wide variety of musical subjects.’
    • ‘He wrote five works on the subject, the most important of which is one on inference.’
    • ‘Columella was a Roman soldier and farmer who wrote extensively on agriculture and similar subjects, hoping to foster in people a love for farming and a liking for the simple life.’
    • ‘Despite some bold statements, the subject always came back to science.’
    theme, subject matter, topic, issue, question, concern, text, thesis, content, point, motif, thread
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    1. 1.1A person or circumstance giving rise to a specified feeling, response, or action.
      ‘the incident was the subject of international condemnation’
      • ‘By January of this year the issue of the aluminum tubes had already become a subject of intense public debate.’
      • ‘Whether the bill ought to be made the subject of public comment and consultation before its passage in Parliament?’
      • ‘Smith was made the subject of a community rehabilitation order for two years.’
      • ‘Norway's polar bear population will be the subject of a census this year.’
      • ‘But it must be confirmed by the full council and must be the subject of public submissions before being imposed.’
      • ‘Why obscure a news photo taken in a public place about a subject of national concern?’
      • ‘The issue of gated communities has been a subject of intense public debate and litigation in recent months.’
      • ‘This all seems to be in response to the subject of human rights and the inclusion of sexual orientation in the bill.’
      • ‘From our responses, the subject of shirt sponsorship is a sensitive one for United fans.’
      • ‘The guided part of the project is the subject of a public inquiry which started this week.’
      • ‘This appeal is now due to be the subject of a new public inquiry into whether the 1965 consent is valid.’
      • ‘Shops along the southern side of Union Street also need to be spruced up but are now the subject of intensive public debate.’
      • ‘Its original plans were thrown out by the city council and are the subject of a forthcoming public inquiry.’
      • ‘Traditionally, this sort of thing has never been a subject of public concern in Britain.’
      • ‘The judge said Parker, who was the subject of a community rehabilitation order, seemed to be responding well and wanted to encourage him.’
      • ‘The defendant had once been made the subject of a community penalty and did well.’
      • ‘Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is not generally the subject of short-term speculation.’
      • ‘There was a punter somewhere in Britain whose name I forget but whose strange activities were the subject of some publicity many years ago.’
      • ‘Instead, we will turn to some of the issues generated by the subject of authenticity.’
      • ‘He has said he wants to find out about the difficulties which have been the subject of much public debate in recent months.’
    2. 1.2A person who is the focus of scientific or medical attention or experiment.
      ‘subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire’
      • ‘Perhaps the greatest surprise in the study was the huge disparity between how the subjects performed in the real life situations and their results on the test.’
      • ‘None of the subjects acknowledged using any medications, including over-the-counter drugs.’
      • ‘Beecher, himself a physician, detailed the routine abuses of human research subjects in medical experiments.’
      • ‘The crucial difference between the two series is that, although they both set out to explain human development, only the television series projects scientific theory onto real subjects.’
      • ‘The subjects, from Medicare lists, were followed for 5 years to look for new heart attacks, angina, heart failure or stroke.’
      • ‘This is a condition in which subjects have had a portion of their primary visual cortex destroyed, and apparently become blind in a region of their visual field as a result.’
      • ‘This was measured by responses to binary forced choice questions (yes or no) asking if the subjects would take the proposed action.’
      • ‘None of the control subjects were taking prescription medications, and all had normal spirometry.’
      • ‘Asthma was documented by the subject's medical history and by physician diagnosis.’
      • ‘In these experiments, test subjects with maladies ranging from severe brain trauma to bipolar disorder undergo a battery of visual tests.’
      • ‘The proposed study subjects would be twenty victims of violent assault who have been given diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder.’
      • ‘Davies is also keen on another idea: getting the subjects of medical research, the patients, more involved.’
      • ‘Our medical researchers are in desperate need of real, human subjects to experiment with cures, as they have been unfairly restricted to the use of white rats.’
      • ‘Several subjects produced diagnosis cards and follow-up notes from medical clinics.’
      • ‘Once their clinical training begins medical students are subject to high levels of stress, and some do not respond well.’
      • ‘Repeating the experiments with other subjects adversely affects the scientific value of the results.’
      • ‘Our methodology could be used to address this question and to identify those attributes that are common predictors of quality for different medical subjects.’
      • ‘Things get problematic when you confuse the test result with the subject.’
      • ‘This would have enhanced slightly the observed difference in D between the healthy subjects and the emphysema patients.’
      • ‘Just as every article has a list of authors, every research study should include a statement regarding human subjects.’
      participant, volunteer
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    3. 1.3Logic The part of a proposition about which a statement is made.
      • ‘This book is an introduction to logic, as contemporary logicians now understand the subject.’
      • ‘It is the medium in which objects and subjects actually come into existence, and is the medium in which their virtuality resides.’
    4. 1.4Music A theme of a fugue or of a piece in sonata form; a leading phrase or motif.
      ‘the chorale-like second subject of the Scherzo’
      • ‘Indeed, the fugue's subject is almost a twin to the opening theme of Flos campi.’
      • ‘When changing from the lighter Handel subjects to the deep tragedy of Haydn, immediately his mannerism changed and so did the mood of the audience.’
      • ‘At the premiere Handel gave an organ extemporisation on the fugal subject taken up by the choir.’
      • ‘Schumann often worries his musical subjects beyond their deadline.’
      • ‘A second subject is more lyrical, but the first is never far away and is used to conclude the movement.’
  • 2A branch of knowledge studied or taught in a school, college, or university.

    ‘maths is not my best subject’
    • ‘So from that we can conclude that girls have more knowledge about the subjects which are examined in today's society than boys.’
    • ‘They bought a cottage on the main street and converted it into a shop called Reading Glasses which specializes in women's studies and social sciences, the subjects she used to teach.’
    • ‘Physical Education lessons are part of the National Curriculum and therefore the subject is taught in schools up and down the country.’
    • ‘It is there that subjects are taught in Gaelic, the only college in Scotland where this happens.’
    • ‘Why can English and maths not be taught within subjects like history and geography rather than separately?’
    • ‘They gain knowledge of subjects in which they are and are not interested.’
    • ‘Even kindergartens teach kids advanced subjects such as math, English and Chinese characters.’
    • ‘On the other hand, districts have used shortages to rationalize the employment of people who have not studied and do nor know the subjects they will teach.’
    • ‘The names of the high school and college subjects in this story have been changed for the sake of privacy.’
    • ‘Academic freedom is not to be completely free to decide what subjects to teach, or even what material to cover, but free to write and express new ideas.’
    • ‘He was principal of Granville High School and taught a variety of subjects in Ohio public schools.’
    • ‘Immersion programs, in which some or all academic subjects are taught in the foreign language, are content based.’
    • ‘It is important for young people to have training opportunities, but the place for teaching these subjects is at college.’
    • ‘He realised that a writer had to widen his mind when he encountered cartoonist Madan's multifaceted knowledge of subjects from anthropology to psychology.’
    • ‘The standing of the teaching profession is such that those leaving schools with high performances in science and technology related subjects do not choose teaching as a career.’
    • ‘Besides content, the manner in which subjects are taught has differential effects on the children of those in dominant and subordinate positions.’
    • ‘The National Curriculum, stipulating subjects to be studied until the age of 16, is also introduced.’
    • ‘He is now attached to a primary school, even though he is qualified to teach politics and other subjects in middle schools.’
    • ‘I was taught all the regular subjects, algebra and trigonometry, English and classical literature, history and current events.’
    • ‘Mr. Burke is quick to caution that no education is free of cultural bias, even if the subject being taught is physics or biology.’
    branch of knowledge, branch of study, course of study, course, discipline, field, area, specialism, speciality, specialty
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  • 3A member of a state other than its ruler, especially one owing allegiance to a monarch or other supreme ruler.

    ‘the legislation is applicable only to British subjects’
    • ‘The relationship that the population of Northern Ireland - elites and ordinary people - have to the peace process is like that of subjects to a monarch.’
    • ‘They were primarily to secure the allegiance of their subject, with most barons providing military service.’
    • ‘The priests were said to use the sacraments to make the Queen's subjects switch their allegiance to the King of Spain.’
    • ‘According to the Islamic Treatise on Holy Law, the ruler comes to power by an agreement between the ruler and his subjects.’
    • ‘He was most tolerant of all Mughal rulers and let his subjects practice their faiths without any fear of persecution.’
    • ‘In saltana, there are no citizens, only subjects, while the ruler is unaccountable except to God.’
    • ‘These answers are interchangeable and, what is more important, absolve both rulers and subjects from facing reality and taking responsibility.’
    • ‘The films shared a common theme: the princess-turned-stunt-woman must conquer evil power in the kingdom and set free good subjects and rulers.’
    • ‘An increasing number of subjects felt that members of the royal family wished to be ordinary people when it suited them, royal when it did not.’
    • ‘Rather, diverse theories have been employed to explain why rulers and subjects think and act as they do and how their thoughts and actions shape the course of politics.’
    • ‘The gulf between the union's rulers and their subjects is now unbridgeable.’
    • ‘They had suffered severe persecution since 1570, when the Pope had excommunicated Elizabeth, releasing her subjects from their allegiance to her.’
    • ‘These historians believe that the Taj Mahal symbolizes the tyranny of a powerful ruler exploiting his subjects and flaunting his magnificence to the world.’
    • ‘Rulers are above their subjects, at a distance, and not fully observed.’
    • ‘She argues that the identification of subjects as tribe members or peasants reflects very different terms of access to resources in the eyes of the state.’
    • ‘The highest duty of a ruler is to protect his subjects; the ruler who enjoys the rewards of his position is bound to that duty.’
    • ‘The strange case of Duleep Singh, Victoria's favorite Maharaja: a ruler without any subjects.’
    • ‘The very nature of this prohibition makes it ideally adapted to produce direct effects in the legal relationship between Member States and their subjects.’
    • ‘After all, in opening the gallery in 1962, she had been the first British monarch to let her subjects give the family silverware to the Antiques Roadshow once-over.’
    • ‘The traditional ruler explained that his subjects had vowed to vote for any of the opposition parties that may adopt candidates from the local people living in Chilubi.’
    citizen, national, native, resident, inhabitant
    liege, liegeman, vassal, subordinate, underling
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  • 4Grammar
    A noun or noun phrase functioning as one of the main components of a clause, being the element about which the rest of the clause is predicated.

    • ‘Two of the subjects produced target language variants of the two structures more consistently after pronoun subjects than after subjects containing a noun.’
    • ‘Government is an extension of the traditional term whereby a verb governs its object, but for Chomsky prepositions may govern and subjects may be governed.’
    • ‘This style is formal, favouring noun clauses as subjects and objects, and often postponing the main verb, or distancing it from the subject.’
    • ‘There are verbs taking a subject and two objects and a subordinate clause.’
    • ‘An incidental point: once we have accusative subjects, the third-person singular verb form comes in here comes me is just what we'd expect.’
  • 5Philosophy
    A thinking or feeling entity; the conscious mind; the ego, especially as opposed to anything external to the mind.

    • ‘In the philosophy of consciousness a subject has over against it a world of objects.’
    • ‘In the latter case some go as far as speaking unhesitatingly of the mind as a subject - or a self, ego, or even a soul.’
    • ‘Object in his parlance means something met with in experience, or in the subject's consciousness.’
    1. 5.1The central substance or core of a thing as opposed to its attributes.


  • 1Likely or prone to be affected by (a particular condition or occurrence, typically an unwelcome or unpleasant one)

    ‘he was subject to bouts of manic depression’
    susceptible to, liable to, prone to, vulnerable to, predisposed to, disposed to, apt to suffer from, likely to suffer from, easily affected by, in danger of, at risk of, open to, wide open to
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  • 2Dependent or conditional upon.

    ‘the proposed merger is subject to the approval of the shareholders’
    • ‘A report to the authority, which meets on Tuesday, recommends approval of some of the plans subject to some design changes.’
    • ‘The Labour group has agreed in principle to the proposals, subject to certain conditions.’
    • ‘Member States of the Community may issue coins subject to approval of the European Central Bank as to volume.’
    • ‘The committee voted to approve the plans subject to a legal occupancy agreement being drawn up.’
    • ‘He wants our national security decisions subject to the approval of a foreign government.’
    • ‘It is also subject to environmental approval and the negotiation of a satisfactory dredging contract.’
    • ‘Banks will have the freedom to charge PLR or sub-PLR rates subject to approval of their boards.’
    conditional on, contingent on, dependent on, depending on, controlled by
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  • 3Under the authority of.

    ‘ministers are subject to the laws of the land’
    • ‘It seems that there is some force at work that is not completely subject to the usual laws of nature or of averages.’
    • ‘This is because decisions that concern matters of policy are not subject to a common law duty of care.’
    • ‘Gentile believers during Acts were not subject to the law.’
    • ‘If there was no reason at all for the choice, then we have found something that is not subject to the laws of Nature.’
    • ‘In fact, the airport is not subject to the same laws of the land as the rest of us.’
    • ‘Banks falling under the securities laws are obviously subject to both banking and securities regulation.’
    • ‘He is God, and therefore not subject to the laws and limitations which he has imposed upon us as our sovereign.’
    • ‘Once voted down, a new rule on the same subject needs authorization by an act of Congress.’
    bound by, constrained by, answerable to, accountable to, liable to, under the control of, at the mercy of
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    1. 3.1[attributive]Under the control or domination of another ruler, country, or government.
      ‘the Greeks were the first subject people to break free from Ottoman rule’
      • ‘Bitterness at Aztec rule grew ever more intense among the subject peoples and classes.’
      • ‘This elite had no formal place in the fifteenth century constitutions and was therefore not subject to direct control.’
      • ‘England has always dominated the United Kingdom, although its position has not been that of a colonial power over subject nations.’
      • ‘First, there may be a change of mind or a regime change on behalf of the subject country.’
      • ‘For aliens of enemy origin, the imperialist understanding of political subject status meant two things.’
      • ‘If he is not supported by his own side and if he is then subject to a coup from within fairly rapidly, then we will avoid that scenario.’
      • ‘They had to build castles - strong points from which a few men could dominate a subject population.’
      • ‘The Confessionalization offered the state greater control over the subject population.’


  • Conditionally upon.

    ‘subject to the EC's agreement, we intend to set up an enterprise zone in the area’


  • 1Cause or force someone or something to undergo (a particular experience or form of treatment, typically an unwelcome or unpleasant one)

    ‘he'd subjected her to a terrifying ordeal’
    • ‘Having no history, we cannot subject their deceptions to the scrutiny of experience, cannot judge their words by the truth of similar words uttered to us in the past.’
    • ‘Furthermore the portrayal of explicit sex without violence, but which subjects people to treatment that is degrading or dehumanizing, would also be obscene if it causes harm.’
    • ‘But again it would be inappropriate and unethical to use a placebo when the consequences of doing so would subject someone to the risk of serious or irreversible harm.’
    • ‘Hospital admission can be a traumatizing event for patients and subjects them to the inevitable treatment errors that occur in this setting.’
    • ‘You subjected them to a terrifying experience.’
    • ‘Better to leave Brown as a name and a picture on a dust jacket than to subject someone to this version of her story.’
    • ‘‘They claim to be against cruelty to animals but they are quite happy to subject human beings to mental cruelty,’ he told the paper.’
    • ‘‘If you subject someone to regular colon cleansing, you disrupt the colon's normal function,’ he explains.’
    • ‘She also said he subjected her to mental cruelty and caused her to go bankrupt.’
    • ‘It made it an offence to try to force someone to reveal a spent conviction, or to subject someone to unlawful discrimination.’
    • ‘After producing the knife he subjected them to a terrifying experience during which he made them hand over their valuables, blindfolded them, tied them up and raped them.’
    • ‘It's quite another to subject hundreds to that treatment because you've invented such poor mechanisms for screening.’
    • ‘Traffic between the dishes was then cut off, and the colony was subjected to one of three treatments.’
    • ‘Curiously, there does not seem to be any footage of the select committee subjecting Alastair Campbell to equivalent treatment.’
    • ‘The idea of having his child did not frighten me as much as the thought of myself being forced to marry him or subject a child to his treatment.’
    • ‘I can think of only two reasons to subject travelers to such treatment.’
    • ‘A city court today sentenced an executive of a private company and his parents to life imprisonment for causing the death of his wife after subjecting her to extreme cruelty due to dowry demands.’
    • ‘He served first on a ship then in an artillery workshop but he found his fellow soldiers very difficult as they subjected him to cruelty.’
    • ‘He told Mr Justice Collins: ‘It is inhumane to subject someone to that sort of destitution.’’
    • ‘The researchers placed the crystal-coated phages on a silicon surface and subjected them to a heat treatment that killed off the virus while fusing the crystals into a semi-conducting nanowire.’
    put through, treat with
    expose to, lay open to, submit to
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  • 2Bring (a person or country) under one's control or jurisdiction, typically by using force.

    ‘the city had been subjected to Macedonian rule’
    • ‘In other words, the major German firms were subjected to tight political supervision and control but were still left at least nominally in private ownership.’
    • ‘Once they regained consciousness, they were subjected to same brutal torture.’
    • ‘Moreover, the Malaysian judiciary has been subjected to close political control since independence in 1957.’
    • ‘His appeal to citizenship rights would be subjected to the jurisdiction of the national laws in whatever state he was residing.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘(person) owing obedience’): from Old French suget, from Latin subjectus brought under, past participle of subicere, from sub- under + jacere throw. Senses relating to philosophy, logic, and grammar are derived ultimately from Aristotle's use of to hupokeimenon meaning ‘material from which things are made’ and ‘subject of attributes and predicates’.