subtle

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

English

Alternative forms

Etymology

From Middle English sotil, subtil, a borrowing from Old French soutil, later subtil, French subtil, from Latin subtīlis ‎(fine, thin, slender, delicate); probably, originally, “woven fine”, and from sub ‎(under) + tela ‎(a web), from texere ‎(to weave).

Pronunciation

Adjective

subtle ‎(comparative subtler, superlative subtlest)

  1. Hard to grasp; not obvious or easily understood; barely noticeable.
    The difference is subtle, but you can hear it if you listen carefully.
    • 1712, Richard Blackmore, Creation: A Philosophical Poem. Demonstrating the Existence and Providence of a God. In Seven Books, book I, London: Printed for S. Buckley, at the Dolphin in Little-Britain; and J[acob] Tonson, at Shakespear's Head over-against Catherine-Street in the Strand, OCLC 731619916; 5th edition, Dublin: Printed by S. Powell, for G. Risk, G. Ewing, and W. Smith, in Dame's-street, 1727, OCLC 728300884, page 7:
      The mighty Magnet from the Center darts / This ſtrong, tho' ſubtile Force, thro' all the Parts: / Its active Rays ejaculated thence, / Irradiate all the wide Circumference.
  2. (of a thing) Cleverly contrived.
  3. (of a person or animal) Cunning, skillful.
  4. Insidious.
  5. Tenuous; rarefied; of low density or thin consistency.

Synonyms

Antonyms

Derived terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

References

Anagrams