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4 definitions found

From: DICT.TW English-Chinese Dictionary 英漢字典

 sub·tle /ˈsʌtḷ/

From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Sub·tile a.
 1. Thin; not dense or gross; rare; as, subtile air; subtile vapor; a subtile medium.
 2. Delicately constituted or constructed; nice; fine; delicate; tenuous; finely woven. “A sotil [subtile] twine's thread.”
    More subtile web Arachne can not spin.   --Spenser.
 I do distinguish plain
 Each subtile line of her immortal face.   --Sir J. Davies.
 3. Acute; piercing; searching.
    The slow disease and subtile pain.   --Prior.
 5. Characterized by nicety of discrimination; discerning; delicate; refined; subtle. [In this sense now commonly written subtle.]
    The genius of the Spanish people is exquisitely subtile, without being at all acute; hence there is so much humor and so little wit in their literature. The genius of the Italians, on the contrary, is acute, profound, and sensual, but not subtile; hence what they think to be humorous, is merely witty.   --Coleridge.
    The subtile influence of an intellect like Emerson's.   --Hawthorne.
 5. Sly; artful; cunning; crafty; subtle; as, a subtile person; a subtile adversary; a subtile scheme. [In this sense now commonly written subtle.]
 Syn: -- Subtile, Acute.
 Usage: In acute the image is that of a needle's point; in subtile that of a thread spun out to fineness. The acute intellect pierces to its aim; the subtile (or subtle) intellect winds its way through obstacles.
 -- Sub*tile*ly, adv. -- Sub*tile*ness, n.

From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Sub·tle a. [Compar. Subtler superl. Subtlest ]
 1. Sly in design; artful; cunning; insinuating; subtile; -- applied to persons; as, a subtle foe. “A subtle traitor.”
 2. Cunningly devised; crafty; treacherous; as, a subtle stratagem.
 3. 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.   --Milton.
 4. Smooth and deceptive. [Obs.]
    Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground [bowling ground].   --Shak.
 Syn: -- Artful; crafty; cunning; shrewd; sly; wily.
 Usage: Subtle is the most comprehensive of these epithets and implies the finest intellectual quality. See Shrewd, and Cunning.

From: WordNet (r) 2.0

      adj 1: be difficult to detect or grasp by the mind; "his whole
             attitude had undergone a subtle change"; "a subtle
             difference"; "that elusive thing the soul" [syn: elusive]
      2: faint and difficult to analyze; "subtle aromas"
      3: able to make fine distinctions; "a subtle mind"
      4: working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way;
         "glaucoma is an insidious disease"; "a subtle poison"
         [syn: insidious, pernicious]