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How to pronounce subtle (audio)


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Dictionary definition of subtle

Delicate, understated, or nuanced in its nature, appearance, or meaning.
"There was a subtle hint of vanilla in the dessert, enhancing its flavor."

Detailed meaning of subtle

When describing a quality, characteristic, or attribute, it suggests a sense of sophistication or refined subtlety rather than being overt or obvious. Subtle can also pertain to something that is not immediately noticeable or easily detectable, requiring keen observation or insight to perceive. It often implies a level of complexity or intricacy that requires careful attention to detail. Subtle changes or distinctions may be slight or gradual, yet carry significant implications or impact. In the realm of communication or expression, being subtle means conveying ideas or emotions indirectly or with finesse, rather than employing explicit or direct means. Overall, "subtle" conveys a sense of delicacy, nuance, and hidden depth, inviting careful consideration and interpretation.

Example sentences containing subtle

1. The artist used subtle brushstrokes to create a sense of depth in the painting.
2. The actress delivered a subtle performance, conveying complex emotions with just a glance.
3. The fragrance of the flowers was subtle, filling the air with a delicate scent.
4. The designer incorporated subtle details into the dress, adding an element of elegance.
5. He made a subtle change to the recipe, resulting in a more balanced flavor.
6. The room was decorated with subtle lighting, creating a cozy and intimate ambiance.

History and etymology of subtle

The adjective 'subtle' has its origins in the Latin word 'subtilis,' which can be traced back to the Latin root word 'subtexere.' This root word is formed by combining 'sub,' meaning 'under,' and 'texere,' which relates to 'weaving' or 'constructing.' Over time, 'subtle' has evolved from this etymological source to describe something that is delicate, understated, or nuanced in its nature, appearance, or meaning. Its etymology is rooted in the idea of something being intricately woven or constructed in a way that may not be immediately obvious, aligning with its connotations of subtlety without directly addressing its specific definition.

Quiz: Find the meaning of subtle

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Further usage examples of subtle

1. She used subtle humor to lighten the mood of the conversation.
2. The novel contained subtle symbolism that required careful reading to fully appreciate.
3. The musician added subtle variations to the melody, creating a mesmerizing composition.
4. The detective noticed a subtle clue that led to a breakthrough in the case.
5. The sunset painted the sky with subtle hues of pink and gold.
6. Her subtle smile hinted at hidden emotions.
7. The artwork featured subtle shades of blue and gray.
8. He made a subtle change to the recipe, enhancing the flavor.
9. The movie's subtle symbolism added depth to the story.
10. The scent of roses in the room was pleasantly subtle.
11. She wore a subtle perfume that lingered in the air.
12. The actor's subtle performance left a lasting impression.
13. His humor had a subtle charm that drew people in.
14. The music had a subtle rhythm that was hard to resist.
15. The sunset's colors were soft and subtle, not vibrant.
16. The author's use of foreshadowing was masterfully subtle.
17. The restaurant's lighting created a subtle ambiance.
18. Her makeup was subtle, enhancing her natural beauty.
19. The novel's plot had a subtle complexity.
20. The joke had a subtle irony that few noticed.
21. The changes in the landscape were subtle but beautiful.
22. The painting's details were so subtle, you had to look closely.
23. His criticism was delivered in a subtle, constructive manner.
24. The dress had a subtle elegance that caught everyone's eye.
25. The sunset's fading colors created a subtle, peaceful atmosphere.



nuanced, blatant, obvious, explicit


Prefix sub-, Attention and Focus, Caution and Prudence, Consciousness and Awareness, Subtle and Indirect

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