Definition of subtlety in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsədltē/

noun (plural subtleties)

1The quality or state of being subtle: the textural subtlety of Degas
More example sentences
  • They have many qualities, but subtlety is not their strong suit.
  • At least there was now some quality in the hitting, even if subtlety remained notably absent.
  • Let's have a bit of subtlety and sophistication here, qualities that postmodernists are always urging us to adopt.
1.1A subtle distinction, feature, or argument: the subtleties of English grammar
More example sentences
  • Every time you go back to it, you can pick up different subtleties, nuances of flavour that you perhaps missed earlier.
  • It was a mixture of the cheap yellow home-peroxided hair and their utter lack of humour, in all its subtleties and nuances.
  • Finns also listen very carefully and easily pick up subtleties and nuances.


Middle English: from Old French soutilte, from Latin subtilitas, from subtilis 'fine, delicate' (see subtle).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sub·tle·ty

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