[CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]
"Subdue", the verb can mean to force into submission, or to cow. You can surely imagine a person who has been boasting about their knowledge on some field being exposed as wrong by a higher authority, their reaction, and how they would act and speak.
A-"Everyone knows the spotted owl is a native of the plains."
B-"Are you sure?"
A-"Certainly, how could it be otherwise?"
C-(ornithologist)"Actually, they are not."
A-"(in a subdued voice) Well...I was certain I had read it somewhere."
Student or Learner