• Subtle
  • WordNet 3.6
    • adj subtle working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way "glaucoma is an insidious disease","a subtle poison"
    • adj subtle difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze "his whole attitude had undergone a subtle change","a subtle difference","that elusive thing the soul"
    • adj subtle able to make fine distinctions "a subtle mind"
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Used in art the word "sfumato" refers to the subtle blending of an outline by gradually blending one tone into another
    • Subtle Characterized by refinement and niceness in drawing distinctions; nicely discriminating; -- said of persons; as, a subtle logician; refined; tenuous; sinuous; insinuating; hence, penetrative or pervasive; -- said of the mind; its faculties, or its operations; as, a subtle intellect; a subtle imagination; a subtle process of thought; also, difficult of apprehension; elusive. "Things remote from use, obscure and subtle ."
    • Subtle Cunningly devised; crafty; treacherous; as, a subtle stratagem.
    • Subtle Sly in design; artful; cunning; insinuating; subtile; -- applied to persons; as, a subtle foe. "A subtle traitor."
    • Subtle Smooth and deceptive. "Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground [bowling ground]."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • subtle Same as subtile, 1.
    • subtle Same as subtile, 2.
    • subtle Sly; insinuating; artful; cunning; crafty; deceitful; treacherous: as, a subtle adversary; a subtle scheme. Also subtile.
    • subtle Cunningly devised; artfully contrived or handled; ingenious; clever: as, a subtle stratagem. Also subtile.
    • subtle Characterized by acuteness and penetration of mind; sagacious; discerning; discriminating; shrewd; quick-witted: as, a subtle understanding; subtle penetration or insight. Also subtile.
    • subtle Made carefully level; smooth; even.
    • subtle Ingenious; skilful; clever; handy: as, a subtle operator. Also subtile. Synonyms Cunning, Artful, Sly, etc. (see cunning), designing, acute, keen, Jesuitical.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Subtle sut′l (B. Sub′til), subtile in a figurative sense: acute, quick to discern or discriminate: insinuating, sly, artful: cunningly devised, ingenious
    • ***


  • John Milton
    “How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!”
  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “Many bad artists will tell you that art is life. There's a subtle difference however. You can turn your back on art”
  • Thomas De Quincey
    Thomas De Quincey
    “Thou hast the keys of Paradise, oh just, subtle, and mighty opium!”
  • Albert Einstein
    “God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.”
  • Charles Dickens
    “Such is hope, heaven's own gift to struggling mortals, pervading, like some subtle essence from the skies, all things both good and bad.”
  • Henry David Thoreau
    “We perceive and are affected by changes too subtle to be described.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. sotil, subtil, OF. soutil, later subtil, F. subtil, L. subtilis,; probably, originally, woven fine, and fr. sub, under + tela, a web, fr. texere, to weave. See Text, and cf. Subtile
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Contr. of subtile.


In literature:

There may be other subtle thoughts connected with that expression which I do not need to enter upon now.
"Expositions of Holy Scripture" by Alexander Maclaren
It is over-subtle; it is not true; it has no beauty of any kind.
"Browning's Heroines" by Ethel Colburn Mayne
The unction of the Holy One is more subtle and penetrating and subduing than sin and Satan.
"The Parables of Our Lord" by William Arnot
A nameless French odour pervaded the atmosphere, delicate, subtle, but unmistakeable.
"The Daughters of Danaus" by Mona Caird
And the grand subtle things she said of you, that only a woman can understand!
"The Wind Bloweth" by Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne
Amid that great panorama of blue and gold she seemed to perceive subtle traces of a beneficent divinity.
"Sacrifice" by Stephen French Whitman
None of your subtle flattery.
"The King's Esquires" by George Manville Fenn
There is nothing else subtle enough to interpose.
"My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year" by John Henry Jowett
But whatever their secret, it was manifest to me that it was neither subtle nor profound.
"Chance" by Joseph Conrad
Why should a lighted window call with so subtle a message?
"Nights in London" by Thomas Burke
But impressions subtle as odours made her uneasy about his relations with San Marco.
"Romola" by George Eliot
I think the art of losing things is a very subtle art.
"The Green Carnation" by Robert Smythe Hichens
Even a poor joke seems to have a subtle flavour on the prairie.
"Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1909 to 1922" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
By what a strange and mysterious link are the finest and most subtle feelings connected with external forms and appearances!
"Traditions of Lancashire, Volume 2 (of 2)" by John Roby
His continued silence had been strategy of a subtle order.
"'Drag' Harlan" by Charles Alden Seltzer
Perhaps he had been too subtle, too restrained.
"The Branding Iron" by Katharine Newlin Burt
There was a subtle difference between the cook and his masters, easier to see than to define.
"The Huntress" by Hulbert Footner
And by what a subtle objective method does Dostoieffski show us his characters!
"A Critic in Pall Mall" by Oscar Wilde
Jacqueline for the first time in her life enjoyed that most subtle flattery of being understood.
"Kildares of Storm" by Eleanor Mercein Kelly
Her dogmas have been formed by the subtle wits of Church theologians.
"Carmen Ariza" by Charles Francis Stocking

In poetry:

'His silence on my cheek like breath
I felt in subtle way;
More sweet than aught another saith
Was what he did not say.
"A Girl's Sin - In Her Eyes" by Francis Thompson
"The Moghra flowers, the Moghra flowers,
So dear to Youth at play;
The small and subtle Moghra flowers
That only last a day."
"Story Of Udaipore: Told" by Laurence Hope
And aye her soul, her inward worth,
Flushed out in subtle glows,
As from its heart come mantling forth
The ardours of a rose.
"Cora" by Charles Harpur
Methinks the West shall know me best,
And therefore hold my memory dearer;
For by that lake a bard shall make
My subtle, hidden meanings clearer.
"The Poet's Metamorphosis" by Eugene Field
Then he smiled to himself, for it was his!
He had toiled for it, and now he cared.
Yes! loved its shape, and its subtle, swift hues,
Which his own hard work had bared.
"A Tale Of Starvation" by Amy Lowell
He gave a simple truth and faithfulness
To men of silence and of subtle ways;
He shared with them long hunger and distress--
When they had little, he himself had less,
Through all the dark and lonely winter days.
"Jean De Breboeuf" by Virna Sheard

In news:

' Junebug ': Subtle Southern Living.
Evidence includes marked differences in behavior, subtle physical variations.
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, two comedians who couldn't find the word subtle in the dictionary if you spotted them the first five letters, have come together to take a shot at politics.
This alert was not a subtle one.
There's nothing subtle about dryer lint : Clean the fluffy, gray mat off the filter or risk a fire.
The subtle thumping in my head on this perfectly cromulent Monday morning tells me that I had a great weekend.
Steve Jobs had many inventions, but one that Apple fans will remember for a long time is the "Stevenote," a keynote style that was anything but subtle.
Nothing is subtle at the Mexican restaurant.
Chabon delivers a polished, subtle, and enjoyable rendition of his first major work of nonfiction.
I was pretty good when I played baseball, and I'm way into rock climbing, which required subtle hand work.
Maple syrup adds subtle sweetness to pumpkin pie.
Alto 's layout is beautiful, too, with tall, elegant fonts and subtle coloring.
The Zolas' subtle, addictive ' Ancient Mars.
Florida's changing seasons are much more subtle than the northern variety.
Keith Urban isn't exactly being subtle about his big announcement .

In science:

But in each case there are subtle choices involving when conditioning is unde(cid:12)ned.
Conditional Plausibility Measures and Bayesian Networks
The M → ∞ behavior for C0 = C1 is more subtle and requires an analysis of the subleading O(M ) terms in Eq. 7.
Spin Structure of Many-Body Systems with Two-Body Random Interactions
If your Monte Carlo algorithm is sensitive to the subtle correlations present in the sequence, then you are in problem.
Monte Carlo: Basics
In the actual calculation, there is a subtle point in the normalization of the random potential ǫ(n) in Eq.(10) when we vary the system size L .
Random-Mass Dirac Fermions in an Imaginary Vector Potential (II): Long-Range Correlated Random Mass
In section 2.3 we discuss an important subtle question ”what is a random countable graph ?”.
Gibbs and Quantum Discrete Spaces
We will find much of the ideas and analysis are parallel to linear multigrid, with a few subtle differences.
Variational Principles in General Relativity
In practice, Eqn. (4.33) will become a finite-differenced equation for u. A subtle detail of Eqn. (4.33) is the interpretation of s.
Variational Principles in General Relativity
The dependence of the limit measure φ on the choice of sequence (Λn ) can be subtle, especially when q < 1 (OP).
The Random-Cluster Model
Unfortunately the definition of K-homology seems to be much more subtle than that of K-theory and all known definitions are difficult to work with, especially in the equivariant context.
Quantum Field Theory and Representation Theory: A Sketch
For the seventh non-compact direction i = 2 the analysis is more subtle.
Gauge theory description of compactified pp-waves
In more general geometries, b.c. (in)dependence is a more subtle question.
Integrated density of states for ergodic random Schr\"odinger operators on manifolds
However, Domain Monotonicity for Neumann heat kernels is a subtle question.
Integrated density of states for ergodic random Schr\"odinger operators on manifolds
The distinction between ˆΨj and Ψj is somewhat subtle and we expand on it here.
Linear Phase Transition in Random Linear Constraint Satisfaction Problem
However, prior to discussing the almost localized solutions of Eq. (1), a subtle point must be clarified.
Coherent Random Lasing and "Almost Localized" Photon Modes
Thus we encounter a somewhat subtle situation.
General Criterion for the existence of Supertube and BIon in Curved Target Space