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 subtlest

Contemporary Examples of subtlest

Historical Examples of subtlest

  • It would have been the subtlest flattery, had he not been the most honest and straightforward of men.

    Whittier-land

    Samuel T. Pickard

  • She did not know that there are times when the emotions are more potent than the subtlest wines.

    Emmy Lou

    George Madden Martin

  • But certain souls are proof against the subtlest forms of hypnotism.

    Gossamer

    George A. Birmingham

  • He may be in an agony of fear, but only by the subtlest changes could it be detected.

  • The subtlest and most potent half of the spell is hidden; and we guess it only little by little.

    Laurus Nobilis

    Vernon Lee


British Dictionary definitions for subtlest

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 subtlest

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