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[suht-l, suhb-til] /ˈsʌt l, ˈsʌb tɪl/
adjective, subtiler, subtilest.
Origin of subtile
1325-75; Middle English < Latin subtīlis fine (orig. of fabric), equivalent to sub- sub- + -tīlis, akin to tēla cloth on a loom, loom (< *tekslā, derivative of texere to weave; see text)
Related forms
subtilely, adverb
subtileness, noun
nonsubtile, adjective
nonsubtilely, adverb
nonsubtileness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for subtile
Historical Examples
  • What subtile questions are cleared up by them in a very short time!

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • A wordless question is asked, a subtile understanding is vouchsafed.

    Floyd Grandon's Honor

    Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • This we may confirm by a reflection, which to some will, perhaps, appear too subtile and refined.

  • His reason is dispersed and shadowy, more thin and subtile, like the air.

    The Maine Woods

    Henry David Thoreau
  • That which is the subtile essence, in it all that exists has itself.

    Indian Myth and Legend Donald Alexander Mackenzie
  • And the traveller Leopold said that he should go otherwhither for he was a man of cautels and a subtile.

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • Unfortunately for me, doubtlessly, that is so subtile, that I do not understand it.

    The Prairie Flower Gustave Aimard
  • Some subtile disquietude had arisen to disturb his serenity.

  • You cannot see the subtile power conveyed from one man to a weaker.

    The Funny Side of Physic A. D. Crabtre
  • With the cold and critical she would have lost her subtile charm.

    Mariposilla Mary Stewart Daggett
British Dictionary definitions for subtile


a rare spelling of subtle
Derived Forms
subtilely, adverb
subtility (sʌbˈtɪlɪtɪ), subtileness, noun
subtilty, noun
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 subtile

late 14c., "clever, dexterous," from Old French subtil (14c.), from Latin subtilis "fine, thin, delicate" (see subtle). A Latinized refashioning of the French source of subtle.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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