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subtle

[suht-l] /ˈsʌt l/
adjective, subtler, subtlest.
1.
thin, tenuous, or rarefied, as a fluid or an odor.
2.
fine or delicate in meaning or intent; difficult to perceive or understand:
subtle irony.
3.
delicate or faint and mysterious:
a subtle smile.
4.
requiring mental acuteness, penetration, or discernment:
a subtle philosophy.
5.
characterized by mental acuteness or penetration:
a subtle understanding.
6.
cunning, wily, or crafty:
a subtle liar.
7.
insidious in operation:
subtle poison.
8.
skillful, clever, or ingenious:
a subtle painter.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English sotil < Old French < Latin subtīlis subtile (b of modern spelling < L)
Related forms
subtleness, noun
subtly, adverb
hypersubtle, adjective
hypersubtleness, noun
nonsubtle, adjective
nonsubtleness, noun
nonsubtly, adverb
oversubtle, adjective
oversubtly, adverb
pseudosubtle, adjective
pseudosubtly, adverb
unsubtle, adjective
unsubtleness, noun
unsubtly, adverb
Synonyms
6. sly, tricky, foxy, slick.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for subtler
  • The sweeter, riper fruit-and higher alcohol levels that result-overpower subtler flavors.
  • It's a subtler palette than crimson and gold, but it's equally irresistible.
  • But cars are loaded with subtler technologies that quietly go about their jobs without drawing attention.
  • The chemical inertness of certain gases is subtler to explain.
  • Determining a cause-and-effect relationship for this subtler scenario is difficult, however.
  • Researchers are looking at subtler signs of the disaster's potential impacts on human health.
  • Other researchers, however, are looking at subtler signs of the disaster's potential impacts on human health.
  • He's shown enough strength behind the camera that he should give it another shot, beginning with a much subtler story.
  • But literature was not destined to remain a religious monotone: other and subtler influences were to modify its character.
  • With the heightening of emotion his style heightens, and as his comedy refines itself his verse becomes subtler.
British Dictionary definitions for subtler

subtle

/ˈsʌtəl/
adjective
1.
not immediately obvious or comprehensible
2.
difficult to detect or analyse, often through being delicate or highly refined: a subtle scent
3.
showing or making or capable of showing or making fine distinctions of meaning
4.
marked by or requiring mental acuteness or ingenuity; discriminating
5.
delicate or faint: a subtle shade
6.
cunning or wily: a subtle rogue
7.
operating or executed in secret: a subtle intrigue
Derived Forms
subtleness, noun
subtly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French soutil, from Latin subtīlis finely woven
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for subtler

subtle

adj.

c.1300, sutel, soutil, in reference to things, "of thin consistency;" in reference to craftsmen, "skilled, clever," from Old French soutil, from Latin subtilis "fine, thin, delicate, finely woven," from sub "under" (see sub-) + -tilis, from tela "web" and texere "to weave" (see texture). The spelling with -b- reflects confusion with subtile. Most non-material senses were present by late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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