Adjective "Subtle" definition and examples



Definitions and examples


(especially of a change or distinction) so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyse or describe.
  1. 'The software analyses voice patterns, and detects subtle changes which can point to the claimants lying.'
  2. 'I miss subtle changes in language over a magazine's course.'
  3. 'However, when both languages are in the same book, subtle differences make it difficult for some readers, usually those reading in Spanish.'
  4. 'Although there are subtle changes on Parade, it's not radically dissimilar to what fans have come to expect.'
  5. 'More fundamentally, this book is at times reckless in its disregard for the subtle changes in the representation of religious differences across the period from Shakespeare to Milton.'
  6. 'The actors lip-synch the songs and Neil creates different personalities with subtle changes in his voice.'
  7. 'I saw young black spruces growing higher than ever before on boreal hillsides in Alaska, and subtle changes transform the tundra.'
  8. 'They alleviate the difficulties of observing subtle changes that are difficult to observe with more established methods such as superimposition.'
  9. 'But the changes are so subtle that they are difficult to apprehend and you cannot be certain that this is the case.'
  10. 'Again it appears to be that the most sensitive organ is the liver, and nobody has done a careful study to look at whether there are subtle changes in muscle or other tissues yet.'
  11. 'subtle lighting'
  12. 'Creamy nutty oak flavours backing up some subtle fruit flavours of nectarine, peach and apple juice.'
  13. 'It's quite a subtle effect, but it's definitely there.'
  14. 'More subtle effects of air resistance on projectile motion are related to the shape and rotation of the object.'
  15. 'Try using pigment pads on dark paper for a subtle effect.'
  16. 'The effect is subtle, yet it works, and while the overall result is undeniably decadent, the space feels individual as opposed to ostentatious.'
  17. 'White tea should only be blended with very subtle ingredients, if any at all, to prevent it from being overpowered.'
  18. 'Fortunately it means bargain prices for this complex and subtle wine, which is on sale in limited quantities for €8.89 a bottle.'
  19. 'Limes have a stimulating, wake-me-up freshness that sets off the less obvious flavours of more subtle fruits and vegetables.'
  20. 'My Munchurian Chicken was mild, the chicken complemented by a subtle sauce flavoured with onions, garlic, ginger, finely chopped herbs and plenty of pepper.'
  21. 'There is a hint of gold and a very slight sweetness with a subtle herb flavour and a gentle smell of newly-mown hay: a delicate flavouring that doesn't overpower the vodka.'
  22. 'That was not an impossible ideal but it did require a subtle mind to grasp it.'
  23. 'However, the truth is the mind is very subtle and it has the ability to rationalize which can turn the obvious into the ambiguous, and vice versa.'
  24. 'One can easily imagine why a parent would want to make their children more capable of subtle discernment of where their real interests lie.'
  25. 'Instead, they rally the people through subtle statements straight from the heart.'
  26. 'Instead, these works are subtle and quiet, yet filled with mood.'
  27. 'I've found more subtle, quiet ways to make sure everyone around pays attention to me now.'
Making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something.
  1. 'Yet the approach may be more subtle - and quite clever as well.'
  2. 'Then again, maybe we won't, as this is the kind of information that can be used in very subtle ways to achieve certain ends.'
  3. 'His methods aren't subtle but when you have megalomaniacal ambitions it's easy not to be shy about getting your hands dirty while disposing of assorted Latino gangsters.'
  4. 'It is subtle and clever and knows how to get our attention.'
  5. 'These strategic dilemmas are supported with some subtle and clever tactical dynamics.'
  6. 'However subtle and indirect, its provenance in the peace settlement reveals it to be too much an enterprise of political imposition, and too little of genuine consent.'
  7. 'Jesus used an indirect and subtle method of communication which may well have been more effective than direct, dogmatic statements.'
  8. 'More subtle methods were employed in achieving operational and strategic success.'
  9. 'But their moves were quiet and furtive, and hard to trace, and so I was forced to use subtle methods to seek the root of this vile blossom.'
  10. 'Some of the solutions to your problems are very subtle and clever.'
Crafty; cunning.
  1. 'But the serpent was as subtle and cunning as ever, more than any other beast who dwelt within the garden which the Gods had made.'


1. thin, tenuous, or rarefied, as a fluid or an odor.

2. fine or delicate in meaning or intent; difficult to perceive or understand: subtle irony.

3. delicate or faint and mysterious: a subtle smile.

4. requiring mental acuteness, penetration, or discernment: a subtle philosophy.

5. characterized by mental acuteness or penetration: a subtle understanding.

6. cunning, wily, or crafty: a subtle liar.

7. insidious in operation: subtle poison.

More examples(as adjective)

"differences can be subtle as things."

"problems can be subtle in testings."

"people can be subtle for people."

"people can be subtle at things."

"people can be subtle as trucks."

More examples++


Middle English (also in the sense ‘not easily understood’): from Old French sotil, from Latin subtilis.