from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- adj. So slight as to be difficult to detect or describe; elusive: a subtle smile.
- adj. Difficult to understand; abstruse: an argument whose subtle point was lost on her opponent.
- adj. Able to make fine distinctions: a subtle mind.
- adj. Characterized by skill or ingenuity; clever.
- adj. Crafty or sly; devious.
- adj. Operating in a hidden, usually injurious way; insidious: a subtle poison.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- adj. Hard to grasp; not obvious or easily understood; barely noticeable.
- adj. Cleverly contrived.
- adj. Cunning, skillful.
- adj. insidious
- adj. Tenuous; rarefied; of low density or thin consistency.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- adj. Sly in design; artful; cunning; insinuating; subtile; -- applied to persons.
- adj. Cunningly devised; crafty; treacherous.
- adj. Characterized by refinement and niceness in drawing distinctions; nicely discriminating; -- said of persons; ; refined; tenuous; sinuous; insinuating; hence, penetrative or pervasive; -- said of the mind; its faculties, or its operations; ; also, difficult of apprehension; elusive.
- adj. Smooth and deceptive.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Same as subtile, 1.
- Same as subtile, 2.
- Sly; insinuating; artful; cunning; crafty; deceitful; treacherous: as, a subtle adversary; a subtle scheme. Also subtile.
- Cunningly devised; artfully contrived or handled; ingenious; clever: as, a subtle stratagem. Also subtile.
- Characterized by acuteness and penetration of mind; sagacious; discerning; discriminating; shrewd; quick-witted: as, a subtle understanding; subtle penetration or insight. Also subtile.
- Made carefully level; smooth; even.
- Ingenious; skilful; clever; handy: as, a subtle operator. Also subtile.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- adj. able to make fine distinctions
- adj. difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze
- adj. working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
Middle English sotil, from Old French, from Latin subtīlis; see teks- in Indo-European roots.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English sotil, subtil, from Old French soutil, later subtil, French subtil, from Latin subtilis ("fine, thin, slender, delicate"); probably, originally, “woven fine”, and from sub ("under") + tela ("a web"), from texere ("to weave"). (Wiktionary)