from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Subtle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. subtle

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Thin; not dense or gross; rare.
  • adj. Delicately constituted or constructed; nice; fine; delicate; tenuous; finely woven.
  • adj. Acute; piercing; searching.
  • adj. Characterized by nicety of discrimination; discerning; delicate; refined; subtle.
  • adj. Sly; artful; cunning; crafty; subtle

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Tenuous; thin; extremely fine; rare; rarefied: as, subtile vapor; subtile odors or effluvia; a subtile powder; a subtile medium. Also subtle.
  • Delicately constituted, made, or formed; delicately constructed; thin; slender; fine; delicate; refined; dainty. Also subtle.
  • Sharp; penetrating; piercing.
  • Same as subtle, 3.
  • Same as subtle, 4.
  • Same as subtle, 5.
  • Same as subtle, 7.
  • To contrive or practise cunningly.
  • To scheme or plan cunningly.
  • To tamper; meddle.


Middle English, from Old French subtil, from Latin subtīlis, fine, delicate; see subtle.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin subtilis ("fine, thin, slender, delicate"), perhaps, from sub ("under") + tela ("a web, fabric"); see tela, toil. (Wiktionary)



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