subtle Definition

  • 1(especially of a change or distinction) so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyze or describe
  • 2making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something

Using subtle: Examples

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with how "subtle" can be used in various situations through the following examples!

  • Example

    There is a subtle difference between the two paintings.

  • Example

    She has a subtle way of getting what she wants.

  • Example

    The movie's message was conveyed through subtle imagery.

  • Example

    He made a subtle reference to her mistake.

subtle Synonyms and Antonyms

Phrases with subtle

  • a delicate and nuanced taste


    The dish had a subtle flavor that was hard to identify.

  • an indirect or implied suggestion


    She gave him a subtle hint that she was interested in him.

  • a skillful and clever approach to achieving something


    The art of negotiation is a subtle art that requires practice and experience.

Origins of subtle

from Old French 'soutil', from Latin 'subtilis', meaning 'fine, delicate'


Summary: subtle in Brief

The term 'subtle' [ˈsʌtl] refers to something that is delicate, precise, and difficult to analyze or describe. It can also refer to the use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something, as in 'She has a subtle way of getting what she wants.' 'Subtle' can be used to describe differences, messages, or references, and extends into phrases like 'subtle flavor,' and 'subtle hint.'

How do native speakers use this expression?