Meaning of SUBJECT in English

I. sub ‧ ject 1 S2 W1 /ˈsʌbdʒɪkt/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: Latin subjectus , from subicere 'to put under your control' , from jacere 'to throw' ]

1 . THING TALKED ABOUT the thing you are talking about or considering in a conversation, discussion, book, film etc:

Paul has strong opinions on most subjects.

The subjects covered in this chapter are exercise and nutrition.

subject of

Truffaut’s childhood memories were the subject of his first film.

While we’re on the subject of money, do you have the $10 you owe me?

► Do not say ‘the subject is about ... ’: The subject of the poem is war. | The poem is about war. ⇨ ↑ subject matter

2 . AT SCHOOL an area of knowledge that you study at a school or university:

My favorite subject is math.

3 . IN ART the thing or person that you show when you paint a picture, take a photograph etc:

Monet loved to use gardens as his subjects.

4 . IN A TEST a person or animal that is used in a test or ↑ experiment :

The subjects of this experiment were all men aged 18–35.

5 . GRAMMAR a noun, noun phrase, or ↑ pronoun that usually comes before a main verb and represents the person or thing that performs the action of the verb, or about which something is stated, for example ‘she’ in ‘She hit John’ or ‘elephants’ in ‘Elephants are big’ ⇨ ↑ object 1 (6)

6 . CITIZEN formal someone who was born in a country that has a king or queen, or someone who has a right to live there:

a British subject

⇨ ↑ citizen (2), ↑ national 2

• • •


■ verbs

▪ discuss/talk about a subject

Have you discussed the subject with your husband?

▪ change the subject (=start talking about something different)

She tried to change the subject.

▪ mention a subject

The subject was not mentioned again.

▪ deal with/cover a subject (=speak or write about it)

The subject is dealt with in great detail in his previous book.

▪ touch on a subject (=say or write a little about it)

In his speech, he touched on the subject of death.

▪ bring up/raise a subject (=deliberately start talking about it)

You brought the subject up, not me.

▪ get onto a subject (=happen to start talking about it)

We somehow got onto the subject of detective stories.

▪ broach a subject (=start talking about a sensitive subject)

She hesitated, wondering exactly how to broach the subject of their sleeping arrangements.

▪ get back to a subject

Somehow I just knew in the end we would get back to the subject of money.

▪ drop a subject (=stop talking about it)

To her relief, Julius dropped the subject.

▪ avoid/keep off/stay off a subject (=not talk about it)

I knew he was trying to avoid the subject of drugs.


She hoped that Anna would keep off the subject of Luke for the next few hours.

▪ get somebody off a subject (=make them talk about something else)

It was difficult to get him off the subject of cars.

▪ a subject comes up (=people start talking about it)

The subject of payment never came up.

■ adjectives

▪ an interesting/fascinating subject

Fame is a fascinating subject.

▪ a difficult/complex subject (=very complicated)

Immigration is a complex subject.

▪ a controversial subject

The content of the curriculum has become a controversial subject.

▪ a sensitive/touchy subject (=one that people may get upset about)

Steer clear of complicated issues or sensitive subjects.

▪ a delicate subject (=one that may be embarrassing)

She carefully avoided discussing the delicate subject of money.

▪ a taboo subject (=one that it is not acceptable to mention)

For them, death was not a taboo subject.

■ phrases

▪ a subject of/for discussion

TV is a favourite subject for discussion.

▪ a subject of conversation

She searched for a new subject of conversation.

▪ a subject of/for debate (=a subject people discuss and disagree about)

The reason for the increased risk of cancer is still a subject of debate.

▪ a subject of controversy (=a subject people disagree about strongly)

Nuclear power is still the subject of considerable controversy.

▪ a subject area (=a group of related subjects)

He has written a lot in this subject area.

• • •


▪ citizen someone who lives in a particular town, country, or state:

In order to become a US citizen, you need to have a Permanent Resident card.


All British citizens have the right to live in the UK.


Good citizens understand that they have a responsibility to the community.

▪ national a citizen of a country who is living in another country:

She insisted that foreign nationals were safe in the country.


Russians nationals were ordered to leave.


Her husband is a French national.

▪ resident someone who lives in a particular street or area:

There have been complaints by local residents about the building work.


She was a resident of Chicago for many years.

▪ native someone who was born in a particular country but moved to another country – used when describing a person or their life:

Picasso was a native of Spain, although he spent much of his life in France.

▪ subject someone who was born in a country that has a king or queen, and has a right to live there:

Northern Ireland citizens are British subjects.

▪ alien formal someone who is not a legal citizen of the country they are living or working in - used in official contexts:

Employers cannot hire illegal aliens.

II. subject 2 BrE AmE adjective

1 . be subject to something

a) if someone or something is subject to something, especially something bad, it is possible or likely that they will be affected by it:

All flights are subject to delay.

Prices are subject to change.

b) if something is subject to something such as approval, it depends on that thing happening before it can happen:

The funding is subject to approval by the Board of Education.

2 . be subject to a rule/law/penalty/tax etc if you are subject to a rule, law, penalty etc, you must obey the rule or pay an amount of money:

Violators are subject to a $100 fine.

3 . [only before noun] formal a subject country, state, people etc are strictly governed by another country:

subject peoples

III. sub ‧ ject 3 /səbˈdʒekt/ BrE AmE verb [transitive]

formal to force a country or group of people to be ruled by you, and control them very strictly

subject somebody/something to something phrasal verb

to force someone or something to experience something very unpleasant, especially over a long time:

Police subjected him to hours of questioning.

subject somebody to an ordeal/abuse/harassment

Barker subjected his victim to awful abuse.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.