[suht-l, suhb-til]

adjective, sub·til·er, sub·til·est.

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 formssub·tile·ly, adverbsub·tile·ness, nounnon·sub·tile, adjectivenon·sub·tile·ly, adverbnon·sub·tile·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subtile

Historical Examples of subtile

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for subtile



a rare spelling of subtle
Derived Formssubtilely, adverbsubtility (sʌbˈtɪlɪtɪ) or subtileness, nounsubtilty, 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

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