adjective (subtler, subtlest)
- 1(Especially of a change or distinction) so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyze or describe: his language expresses rich and subtle meaningsMore example sentences
- But the changes are so subtle that they are difficult to apprehend and you cannot be certain that this is the case.
- They can also remove certain features of a landscape to enhance others and isolate subtle changes with mathematical precision.
- They alleviate the difficulties of observing subtle changes that are difficult to observe with more established methods such as superimposition.
- 1.1(Of a mixture or effect) delicately complex and understated: subtle lightingMore example sentences
- My Munchurian Chicken was mild, the chicken complemented by a subtle sauce flavoured with onions, garlic, ginger, finely chopped herbs and plenty of pepper.
- Limes have a stimulating, wake-me-up freshness that sets off the less obvious flavours of more subtle fruits and vegetables.
- Fortunately it means bargain prices for this complex and subtle wine, which is on sale in limited quantities for €8.89 a bottle.
- 1.2Making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something: he tried a more subtle approachMore example sentences
- Girls tend to use more indirect, subtle, and social methods such as exclusion, manipulation, and spreading rumors.
- Jesus used an indirect and subtle method of communication which may well have been more effective than direct, dogmatic statements.
- Yet the approach may be more subtle - and quite clever as well.
- 1.3Capable of making fine distinctions: a subtle mindMore example sentences
- One can easily imagine why a parent would want to make their children more capable of subtle discernment of where their real interests lie.
- There is another, parsimonious explanation that escapes many would be subtle minds.
- That was not an impossible ideal but it did require a subtle mind to grasp it.
- 1.4Arranged in an ingenious and elaborate way.More example sentences
- By means of ingenious and subtle arguments and making the fewest possible assumptions, he arrived at the following conclusions.
- The rum opens up the subtle and elaborate world of flavours within each chocolate.
- Instead, they rally the people through subtle statements straight from the heart.
- 1.5 • archaic Crafty; cunning.More example sentences
- But the serpent was as subtle and cunning as ever, more than any other beast who dwelt within the garden which the Gods had made.
- The King James Version uses subtle rather than crafty, but the meaning is the same.
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- But Jake's sensitivity and subtleness in this role are just huge.
- One of those paths led to a life of complacency, of subtleness and of eternal peace while the other path led to a small possibility of a mysterious future unknown to him but gave a sense of greatness that thrilled the man to the bone.
- I would have liked it even better had it been more of peach and cardamom taste, but it was still nice and sweet, and you might see its subtleness as ‘discreet’.
- More example sentences
- The Chancellor returns to a government, and a party, subtly different from the one he left late last week.
- And the classroom is subtly different from those to be found in ordinary schools.
- New material is not only that extra bit tougher but it's also subtly more progressive.
Middle English (also in the sense 'not easily understood'): from Old French sotil, from Latin subtilis 'fine, delicate'..