use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

sub·ject (sŭbjĕkt, -jĭkt)
Share:
adj.
1. Being in a position or in circumstances that place one under the power or authority of another or others: subject to the law.
2. Prone; disposed: a child who is subject to colds.
3. Likely to incur or receive; exposed: a directive subject to misinterpretation.
4. Contingent or dependent: a vacation subject to changing weather.
n.
1. One who is under the rule of another or others, especially one who owes allegiance to a government or ruler.
2.
a. One concerning which something is said or done; a person or thing being discussed or dealt with: a subject of gossip.
b. Something that is treated or indicated in a work of art.
c. Music A theme of a composition, especially a fugue.
3. A course or area of study: Math is her best subject.
4. A basis for action; a cause.
5.
a. One that experiences or is subjected to something: the subject of ridicule.
b. A person or animal that is the object of medical or scientific study: The experiment involved 12 subjects.
c. A corpse intended for anatomical study and dissection.
d. One who is under surveillance: The subject was observed leaving the scene of the murder.
6. Grammar The noun, noun phrase, or pronoun in a sentence or clause that denotes the doer of the action or what is described by the predicate.
7. Logic The term of a proposition about which something is affirmed or denied.
8. Philosophy
a. The mind or thinking part as distinguished from the object of thought.
b. A being that undergoes personal conscious or unconscious experience of itself and of the world.
c. The essential nature or substance of something as distinguished from its attributes.
tr.v. (səb-jĕkt) sub·ject·ed, sub·ject·ing, sub·jects
1. To cause to experience, undergo, or be acted upon: suspects subjected to interrogation; rocks subjected to intense pressure.
2. To subjugate; subdue.
3. To submit to the authority of: peoples that subjected themselves to the emperor.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin subiectus, from past participle of sūbicere, to subject : sub-, sub- + iacere, to throw; see yē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

sub·jection (səb-jĕkshən) n.

Synonyms: subject, matter, topic, theme
These nouns denote the principal idea or point of a speech, a piece of writing, or an artistic work. Subject is the most general: “Well, honor is the subject of my story” (Shakespeare).
Matter refers to the material that is the object of thought or discourse: “This distinction seems to me to go to the root of the matter” (William James).
A topic is a subject of discussion, argument, or conversation: “They would talk of ... fashionable topics, such as pictures, taste, Shakespeare” (Oliver Goldsmith).
Theme refers especially to an idea, a point of view, or a perception that is developed and expanded on in a work of art: “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme” (Herman Melville). See Also Synonyms at dependent.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.