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silent b?[edit]

whats with the silent b in subtle? —This unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 11:26, 4 January 2007‎ (UTC).

It has to do with the origin of the word - latin sub texere. I'm adding this to the page. 04:06, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
It's not even supposed to be silent. It's from Latin subtilus from sub + tera. People just started pronouncing the b less and less strongly, and then it became "silent". Pronouncing it with the silent b sounds quite annoying; at least pronounce it with light b sound. - M0rphzone (talk) 01:54, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
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Extra senses. I'm having difficulty seeing how there is more than one general sense of this word - but certainly not four (in English.) --Connel MacKenzie 05:26, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I would merge senses 3 and 4, but they are clearly distinct from definitions 1 and 2. The sense(s) at the end are less common in modern English, but pertain to cunning or skillful craft. Consider:
--EncycloPetey 05:47, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, help me out here; how is that a different sense? That is another aspect of the primary definition that shouldn't be split out as if it were something unique. --Connel MacKenzie 19:47, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
It's definition 3/4 "cunning, crafty", which is different from the usual meaning of subtle (hard to discern). "Hard to discern" is not the same as "skillful, with art". The two senses will have completely different synonyms, and that's another reason to have them as separate senses. A "subtle fox" is a "clever fox", but a "subtle noise" is not a "clever noise". --EncycloPetey 20:36, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. There really do seem to be three senses here, although not divided along the lines that were given originally. A skillful person may create a cleverly contrived problem. Both the person and the problem can the be described as "subtle", but only using two entirely different senses of the word. So, I'd say we have these senses:
  1. Hard to grasp; not obvious or easily understood; barely noticeable
  2. (of a problem, idea, or object) cleverly contrived; insidious
  3. (of a person or animal) skillful; cunning
Rod (A. Smith) 21:23, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm.. I'm not convinced that "cleverly contrived" and "insidious" can be combined. A cleverly contrived dish is meant "to demonstrate skill", not to "entrap or produce harm". The insidious sense is separate from the ones I've discussed, and I can provide several Shakespeare quotes to support that sense, as it seems to be the one most common in his works:
This is clearly a negative connotation, which is not present in your third sense above, and should not be.
Again, a strongly negative connotation.
All of these quotes show a negative sense, which none of your three definitions has or should have. The "insidious" sense (scheming, manipulating) ought to remain separate as a negative one. --EncycloPetey 21:50, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah, yes. You're right. So there are four senses after all, but again not broken down quite like the original entry, since that combined the skillful (person) sense with the cleverly contrived (thing) sense. Rod (A. Smith) 22:06, 27 December 2007 (UTC)