Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To render subtle.
  • intransitive verb To argue or discuss with subtlety; make fine distinctions.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make thin or fine; make less gross or coarse; refine or etherealize, as matter; spin out finely, as an argument.
  • To refine; elaborate or spin out, as in argument; make very nice distinctions; split hairs.
  • Also spelled subtilise.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To refine in argument; to make very nice distinctions.
  • transitive verb To make thin or fine; to make less gross or coarse.
  • transitive verb To refine; to spin into niceties.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To make subtle
  • verb intransitive To use subtle arguments or distinctions

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb make more subtle or refined
  • verb mark fine distinctions and subtleties, as among words
  • verb make (senses) more keen

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • And if reputation and reward shall attend these conquests, which depend mostly on the fineness and niceties of words, it is no wonder if the wit of man so employed, should perplex, involve, and subtilize the signification of sounds, so as never to want something to say in opposing or defending any question; the victory being adjudged not to him who had truth on his side, but the last word in the dispute.

    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

  • And if reputation and reward shall attend these conquests, which depend mostly on the fineness and niceties of words, it is no wonder if the wit of man so employed, should perplex, involve, and subtilize the signification of sounds, so as never to want something to say in opposing or defending any question; the victory being adjudged not to him who had truth on his side, but the last word in the dispute.

    God, Aids & Circumcision

  • Remember they are trying to subtilize, trying to eliminate the gross, and are trying to make everything in which the Light can function.

    The Artist and His Audience

  • Humboldt considers the Mexican Indian as destitute of all imagination, though when to a certain degree educated, he attributes to him facility in learning, a clearness of understanding, a natural turn for reasoning, and a particular aptitude to subtilize and seize trifling distinctions.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 13, No. 372, May 30, 1829

  • Avenarius, Willy, Mach, etc. subtilize this process so far as to reduce all experience to internal

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 5: Diocese-Fathers of Mercy

  • But Philosophy is more than the attempt to refine and subtilize our ordinary words so as to fit them for the higher service of interpretative thought, more even than the endeavour to improve the stock of ideas no matter how come by, by which we interpret to ourselves whatever it imports us to understand.

    Progress and History

  • Almost suffocating under the oppression of repressed feelings, using art only to repeat and rehearse for himself his own internal tragedy, after having wearied emotion, he began to subtilize it.

    Life of Chopin

  • To play with important truths, to disturb the repose of established tenets, to subtilize objections, and elude proof, is too often the sport of youthful vanity, of which maturer experience commonly repents.

    Christian Morals

  • Women are peculiarly fitted to further such a combination — first, from their greater tendency to mingle affection and imagination with passion, and thus subtilize it into sentiment; and next, from that dread of what overtaxes their intellectual energies, either by difficulty, or monotony, which gives them an instinctive fondness for lightness of treatment and airiness of expression, thus making them cut short all prolixity and reject all heaviness.

    The Essays of "George Eliot" Complete

  • Almost suffocating under the oppression of repressed feelings, using art only to repeat and rehearse for himself his own internal tragedy, after having wearied emotion, he began to subtilize it.

    Life of Chopin

Comments

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  • She offers a glance of shy surmise

    That hints a hope of sweet surprise.

    Her gaze is expressive

    But never excessive;

    Her looks speak volumes but subtilize.

    December 24, 2016