[ suht-l-tee ]
See synonyms for: subtletysubtleties on

noun,plural sub·tle·ties.
  1. the state or quality of being subtle.

  2. delicacy or nicety of character or meaning.

  1. acuteness or penetration of mind; delicacy of discrimination.

  2. a fine-drawn distinction; refinement of reasoning: the subtleties of logic.

  3. something subtle.

  4. History/Historical. an elaborate confection, ornate in construction and ornamentation, sometimes edible but more often made and used as a decoration for a table or buffet.

Origin of subtlety

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English subtelte, sutilte, from Old French sutilte, from Latin subtīlitāt-, stem of subtīlitās “fineness,” equivalent to subtīli(s) “fine, slender” (see subtile ) + -ty2

Other words from subtlety

  • hy·per·sub·tle·ty, noun
  • non·sub·tle·ty, noun, plural non·sub·tle·ties.
  • o·ver·sub·tle·ty, noun, plural o·ver·sub·tle·ties. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use subtlety in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for subtlety


/ (ˈsʌtəltɪ) /

nounplural -ties
  1. the state or quality of being subtle; delicacy

  2. a fine distinction or the ability to make such a distinction

  1. something subtle

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