What does subtle mean?

Definitions for subtleˈsʌt l

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word subtle.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. elusive, subtle(adj)

    difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze

    "his whole attitude had undergone a subtle change"; "a subtle difference"; "that elusive thing the soul"

  2. subtle(adj)

    able to make fine distinctions

    "a subtle mind"

  3. insidious, pernicious, subtle(adj)

    working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way

    "glaucoma is an insidious disease"; "a subtle poison"


  1. subtle(Adjective)

    Hard to grasp; not obvious or easily understood; barely noticeable.

    The difference is subtle, but you can hear it if you listen carefully.

  2. subtle(Adjective)

    Cleverly contrived.

  3. subtle(Adjective)

    Cunning, skillful.

  4. subtle(Adjective)


  5. subtle(Adjective)

    Tenuous; rarefied; of low density or thin consistency.

  6. Origin: From sotil, subtil, from soutil, later subtil, subtil, from subtilis; probably, originally, “woven fine”, and from sub + tela, from texere.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Subtle

    sly in design; artful; cunning; insinuating; subtile; -- applied to persons; as, a subtle foe

  2. Subtle

    cunningly devised; crafty; treacherous; as, a subtle stratagem

  3. Subtle

    characterized by refinement and niceness in drawing distinctions; nicely discriminating; -- said of persons; as, a subtle logician; refined; tenuous; sinuous; insinuating; hence, penetrative or pervasive; -- said of the mind; its faculties, or its operations; as, a subtle intellect; a subtle imagination; a subtle process of thought; also, difficult of apprehension; elusive

  4. Subtle

    smooth and deceptive


  1. Subtle

    Subtle was an alternative hip hop sextet from Oakland, California. It consisted of Adam Drucker, Jeffrey Logan, Dax Pierson, Jordan Dalrymple, Alexander Kort, and Marty Dowers. The band was formed in 2001. While considered by the artists to be "genreless", Subtle had close ties to the hip hop and indie music scene. Although both Doseone and Jel have strong ties to the Anticon collective, Subtle was not on the Anticon label roster. Subtle was signed to Lex Records.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Subtle

    sut′l (B. Sub′til), adj. subtile in a figurative sense: acute, quick to discern or discriminate: insinuating, sly, artful: cunningly devised, ingenious.—ns. Subt′leness, Subt′lety, quality of being subtle: artfulness: shrewdness: extreme acuteness.—adj. Subt′le-wit′ted, sharp-witted.—adv. Subt′ly (B. Sub′tilly), ingeniously, cleverly: artfully, deceitfully. [Contr. of subtile.]

Suggested Resources

  1. subtle

    Song lyrics by subtle -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by subtle on the Lyrics.com website.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'subtle' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4833

  2. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'subtle' in Adjectives Frequency: #659

Anagrams for subtle »

  1. bluets

  2. bluest

  3. bustle

  4. sublet


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of subtle in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of subtle in Pythagorean Numerology is: 7

Sample Sentences & Example Usage

  1. John Milton:

    How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, Stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year

  2. Isaac Asimov:

    A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value.

  3. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva:

    Colorblind racism is the new racial music most people dance to, the 'new racism' is subtle, institutionalized and seemingly nonracial.

  4. Francis Bacon:

    Histories make men wise poets, witty the mathematics, subtle natural philosophy, deep moral, grave logic and rhetoric, able to contend.

  5. Hassan Rouhani:

    The budget is drafted with a cautious eye to the oil prices, the current situation demands a more subtle and realistic approach to (the) budget draft.

Images & Illustrations of subtle

Translations for subtle

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"subtle." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 18 Oct. 2017. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/subtle>.

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