subtle

English

Alternative forms

Etymology

From Middle English sotil, subtil, from Old French soutil, later subtil, French subtil, from Latin subtilis (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.
  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

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References

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Last modified on 10 April 2014, at 05:49