subtle

[suht-l]
||

adjective, sub·tler, sub·tlest.


Origin of subtle

1250–1300; Middle English sotil < Old French < Latin subtīlis subtile (b of modern spelling < L)
Related formssub·tle·ness, nounsub·tly, adverbhy·per·sub·tle, adjectivehy·per·sub·tle·ness, nounnon·sub·tle, adjectivenon·sub·tle·ness, nounnon·sub·t·ly, adverbo·ver·sub·tle, adjectiveo·ver·sub·tly, adverbpseu·do·sub·tle, adjectivepseu·do·sub·t·ly, adverbun·sub·tle, adjectiveun·sub·tle·ness, nounun·sub·t·ly, adverb

Synonyms for subtle

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subtleness

Historical Examples of subtleness

  • The charm of woman, too, lies partly in her subtleness in matters of love.

  • He only knew the ethics of the deed was shaded with the subtleness of villainy.

    The Blind Spot

    Austin Hall

  • He speaks, as well he might, of the inconstancy and subtleness of the people with whom we deal.

  • It nettled him to be put on the defensive, his subtleness openly contemned.

    Thirty

    Howard Vincent O'Brien

  • He met the glance with a slow grin which had in it a quality of that subtleness she had noticed in him before.

    'Drag' Harlan

    Charles Alden Seltzer


British Dictionary definitions for subtleness

subtle

adjective

not immediately obvious or comprehensible
difficult to detect or analyse, often through being delicate or highly refineda subtle scent
showing or making or capable of showing or making fine distinctions of meaning
marked by or requiring mental acuteness or ingenuity; discriminating
delicate or fainta subtle shade
cunning or wilya subtle rogue
operating or executed in secreta subtle intrigue
Derived Formssubtleness, nounsubtly, adverb

Word Origin for subtle

C14: from Old French soutil, from Latin subtīlis finely woven
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 subtleness

subtle

adj.

c.1300, sutel, soutil, in reference to things, "of thin consistency;" in reference to craftsmen, "skilled, clever," from Old French soutil, from Latin subtilis "fine, thin, delicate, finely woven," from sub "under" (see sub-) + -tilis, from tela "web" and texere "to weave" (see texture). The spelling with -b- reflects confusion with subtile. Most non-material senses were present by late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper