subject


subject
subject n 1 *citizen, national
Antonyms: sovereign
2 Subject, matter, subject matter, argument, topic, text, theme, motive, motif, leitmotiv can mean the basic idea or the principal object of thought or attention in a discourse or artistic composition.
Subject is the most widely applicable as well as the least definite in denotation of these words; it implies merely some restriction in one's field of choice and a governing principle determining the selection of one's material and demanding some concentration in the treatment of it (as in a discourse or work of art)
{

what is the subject of his painting?

}
{

your subject is too comprehensive to be treated adequately in so short an article

}
{

it was the first of the . . . major mistakes in World War II and became a subject of violent controversy— Shirer

}
Matter and the more usual subject matter are often used as close synonyms of subject
{

hail, Son of God, Saviour of men! Thy name shall be the copious matter of my song— Milton

}
{

Mr. Lytton Strachey . . . chose, as subject matter of a book, four people of whom the world had heard little but good— Repplier

}
As often, however, these terms refer not to the idea, object, or situation selected for treatment but to a restricted field or range of material from which one selects the specific subject he intends to treat
{

Alexander's Bridge was my first novel, and does not deal with the kind of subject matter in which I now find myself most at home— Cather

}
Argument (see also REASON, ARGUMENT 2) can denote the subject, especially the carefully delimited subject, for a particular discourse (as a poem or a part of a poem) that is planned in advance of execution
{

the argument of the book is as simple as you could wish for— Parris

}
The word sometimes implies explicit statement of the leading idea or a summarizing of its development
{

Pope prefaced each epistle of his Essay on Man with an argument of it

}
Topic applies to a subject, usually of general interest, chosen because of its possibilities for individual or original treatment or for discussion by different persons holding diverse views
{

the students were asked to write an essay on one of the assigned topics

}
{

I can't remember in a prolonged conversation what topic's been covered and what hasn't— Purdy

}
Text can mean a verse or passage, usually from Scripture, chosen as providing or suggesting a subject for a sermon or similar discourse
{

the excellency of this text is that it will suit any sermon; and of this sermon, that it will suit any textSterne

}
In extended use it is often applied to whatever suggests itself as a good starting point for a discourse the subject of which is yet to be defined or which lacks a definite subject
{

my text for this chapter is . . . any good daily newspaper— La Barre

}
Theme denotes a subject which one selects for literary or artistic treatment; it is applicable to something (as an idea, proposition, text, melodic phrase, or mood) which a writer, composer, or artist proposes to develop (as in a poem), to elaborate upon (as in a movement of a symphony), or to illustrate (as in a mural or series of murals) or which can be detected in a completed work as the dominant object of his concern
{

fools are my theme, let satire be my song— Byron

}
{

waterfalls are from very early times a favorite theme for the painter— Binyoriy

}
Theme does not necessarily suggest a clearer definition than subject or topic, but, in distinction from them, it invites comparison with the treatment and calls attention to the quality, the form, the design, or the execution of the completed work; thus, an overworked theme implies a lack of freshness in the thought or design; a compelling theme suggests force and enthusiasm in its treatment
{

to produce a mighty book you must choose a mighty themeMeIville

}
Motive and motif are restricted in reference to works of art to those in which design or pattern is the important element. In music they are interchangeable in this sense with theme, the leading phrase which is repeated with variations during the course of a composition or movement; in the decorative arts they apply to the figure which stands out as the salient and dominant feature of the design and is repeated at appro-priate intervals
{

the chief motif of the design is the peacock one, much favored by decorative artists

}
{

don't speak. Don't think. This is, of course, a familiar refrain .... It is the motif of the great dark stories of the 1930's— Geismar

}
Leitmotiv designates a specific melodic phrase that is associated with a particular person, mood, or situation (as in an opera) and that is repeated each time this person, mood, or situation reappears. The word has considerable extended use and is often applied to an insistent or recurrent idea that becomes the dominant theme of an author or of a work
{

"Fate went its way uncompromisingly to the terrible end." This is the leitmotiv of this interesting, dignified apologia of one of Austria's Elder Statesmen—5. R. L.

}
subject adj 1 dependent, *subordinate, secondary, tributary, collateral
Analogous words: *subservient, servile, slavish: conditional, contingent, *dependent, relative
Antonyms: sovereign, dominant
2 *liable, open, exposed, prone, susceptible, sensitive
Analogous words: *apt, likely, liable
Antonyms: exempt

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Subject — may refer to: *An area of interest, also called a topic meaning , thing you are talking or discussing about . It can also be termed as the area of discussion . See Lists of topics and Lists of basic topics. **An area of knowledge; **The focus of… …   Wikipedia

  • Subject — Sub*ject , n. [From L. subjectus, through an old form of F. sujet. See {Subject}, a.] 1. That which is placed under the authority, dominion, control, or influence of something else. [1913 Webster] 2. Specifically: One who is under the authority… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • subject — [sub′jikt, sub′jekt΄; ] for v. [ səb jekt′] adj. [ME suget < OFr < L subjectus, pp. of subjicere, to place under, put under, subject < sub , under + jacere, to throw: see JET1] 1. under the authority or control of, or owing allegiance to …   English World dictionary

  • subject — sub·ject / səb ˌjekt/ n: the person upon whose life a life insurance policy is written and upon whose death the policy is payable: insured compare beneficiary b, policyholder Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster …   Law dictionary

  • Subject — Sub*ject , a. [OE. suget, OF. souzget, sougit (in which the first part is L. subtus below, fr. sub under), subgiet, subject, F. sujet, from L. subjectus lying under, subjected, p. p. of subjicere, subicere, to throw, lay, place, or bring under;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Subject — Sub*ject , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Subjected}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Subjecting}.] 1. To bring under control, power, or dominion; to make subject; to subordinate; to subdue. [1913 Webster] Firmness of mind that subjects every gratification of sense to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Subject-to — is a way of purchasing property when there is an existing lien (i.e., Mortgage, Deed of Trust). It is defined as: Acquiring ownership to a property from a seller without paying off the existing liens secured against the property. It is a way of… …   Wikipedia

  • subject to — 1》 likely or prone to be affected by (something bad). → subject subject to conditionally upon. → subject …   English new terms dictionary

  • subject — [adj] at the mercy of; answerable accountable, apt, at one’s feet*, bound by, captive, collateral, conditional, contingent, controlled, dependent, directed, disposed, enslaved, exposed, governed, in danger of, inferior, liable, likely, obedient,… …   New thesaurus

  • subject — ► NOUN 1) a person or thing that is being discussed, studied, or dealt with. 2) a branch of knowledge studied or taught. 3) Grammar the word or words in a sentence that name who or what performs the action of the verb. 4) a member of a state… …   English terms dictionary