[ suhb-tekst ]
/ ˈsʌbˌtɛkst /


the underlying or implicit meaning, as of a literary work.

Origin of subtext

1945–50; translation of Russian podtékst; see sub-, text
Related formssub·tex·tu·al, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subtext

British Dictionary definitions for subtext


/ (ˈsʌbˌtɛkst) /


an underlying theme in a piece of writing
a message which is not stated directly but can be inferred
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

Word Origin and History for subtext



"underlying theme of a work of literature, 1950, from sub- + text. Originally a term in Konstantin Stanislavsky's theory of acting. Earlier it was used in a literally sense of "text appearing below other text on a page" (1726).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper