late 14c., "to conquer and reduce to subjection," from Old French souduire, but this meant "deceive, seduce," from Latin subducere "draw away, lead away, carry off; withdraw" (see subduce). The primary sense in English seems to have been taken in Anglo-French from Latin subdere and attached to this word. Related: Subdued; subduing. As an associated noun, subdual is attested from 1670s (subduction having acquired other senses).
updated on December 19, 2013