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Definition of "subtle" []

  • So slight as to be difficult to detect or describe; elusive: a subtle smile. (adjective)
  • Difficult to understand; abstruse: an argument whose subtle point was lost on her opponent. (adjective)
  • Able to make fine distinctions: a subtle mind. (adjective)
  • Characterized by skill or ingenuity; clever. (adjective)
  • Crafty or sly; devious. (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "subtle" in a sentence
  • "But what they like most, Ms. Gary suspects, is that almost all ropes have been removed from rooms in the mansion, eliminating what she describes as a subtle but powerful negative."
  • "In his report to the Security Council, Moreno-Ocampo said hundreds of civilians were killed during the last six months in Darfur, while thousands more were forcefully displaced and more than 2.5 million people are suffering what he called a subtle form of genocide through rape and fear."
  • "I am really talking about two intertwined strands--which I referred to as the subtle/subversive body earlier."