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4 definitions found
 for subtle
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Subtile \Sub"tile\, a. [L. subtilis. See Subtile.]
     1. Thin; not dense or gross; rare; as, subtile air; subtile
        vapor; a subtile medium.
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     2. Delicately constituted or constructed; nice; fine;
        delicate; tenuous; finely woven. "A sotil [subtile]
        twine's thread." --Chaucer.
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              More subtile web Arachne can not spin. --Spenser.
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              I do distinguish plain
              Each subtile line of her immortal face. --Sir J.
                                                    Davies.
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     3. Acute; piercing; searching.
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              The slow disease and subtile pain.    --Prior.
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     5. Characterized by nicety of discrimination; discerning;
        delicate; refined; subtle. [In this sense now commonly
        written subtle.]
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              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.
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              The subtile influence of an intellect like
              Emerson's.                            --Hawthorne.
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     5. Sly; artful; cunning; crafty; subtle; as, a subtile
        person; a subtile adversary; a subtile scheme. [In this
        sense now commonly written subtle.]
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     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.
            [1913 Webster] -- Sub"tile*ly, adv. --
            Sub"tile*ness, n.
            [1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Subtle \Sub"tle\, a. [Compar. Subtler; superl. Subtlest.]
     [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.]
     1. Sly in design; artful; cunning; insinuating; subtile; --
        applied to persons; as, a subtle foe. "A subtle traitor."
        --Shak.
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     2. Cunningly devised; crafty; treacherous; as, a subtle
        stratagem.
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     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.
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              Things remote from use, obscure and subtle.
                                                    --Milton.
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     4. Smooth and deceptive. [Obs.]
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              Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground [bowling
              ground].                              --Shak.
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     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.
            [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  subtle
      adj 1: 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" [syn:
             elusive, subtle]
      2: able to make fine distinctions; "a subtle mind"
      3: working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way;
         "glaucoma is an insidious disease"; "a subtle poison" [syn:
         insidious, pernicious, subtle]

From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 :

  288 Moby Thesaurus words for "subtle":
     Byzantine, Machiavellian, Machiavellic, abstruse, accurate, acute,
     adulterated, air-built, airy, analytic, analytical, appreciative,
     arcane, arch, artful, astute, attentive, attenuate, attenuated,
     balled up, boyish, cagey, calculating, canny, casuistic,
     chimerical, civilized, clever, close, cloud-built, complex,
     complicated, concealed, confounded, confused, conscientious,
     constant, convoluted, correct, crabbed, crafty, creamy, critical,
     cultivated, cultured, cunning, cut, cute, daedal, dainty,
     deceitful, deceptive, deep, deep-laid, delicate, demanding,
     designing, detailed, devious, dexterous, diaphanous, differential,
     dilute, diluted, diplomatic, direct, discriminate, discriminating,
     discriminative, distinctive, distinguishing, dreamlike, eggshell,
     elaborate, elegant, elusive, embrangled, entangled, ethereal, even,
     exact, exacting, exigent, express, exquisite, faint, faithful,
     fanciful, fastidious, fatuitous, fatuous, feline, fine, fine-drawn,
     finespun, finical, finicking, finicky, flat, flimsy, fouled up,
     foxy, frail, fussy, gaseous, gauzy, girlish, gloss, gossamer,
     gossamery, graceful, gracile, gracious, guileful, hairline,
     hairsplitting, hidden, illusory, imaginary, implicated, inerrable,
     inerrant, infallible, ingenious, insidious, insubstantial,
     intricate, inventive, involuted, involved, iridescent, knotted,
     knowing, labyrinthian, labyrinthine, lacy, light, loused up,
     many-faceted, mathematical, matted, mazy, meandering, mellow,
     messed up, meticulous, micrometrically precise, microscopic,
     minute, misty, mixed up, mother-of-pearl, mucked up, multifarious,
     nacreous, narrow, nebulous, nice, obscure, opalescent, pale,
     papery, particular, pastel, patinaed, pawky, pearly, perplexed,
     phantomlike, pinpoint, polished, politic, precise, precisianistic,
     precisionistic, profound, punctilious, punctual, quiet, ramified,
     rare, rarefied, ratiocinative, ready, recondite, refined,
     religious, religiously exact, remote, resourceful, rigid, rigorous,
     roundabout, sad, scheming, scientific, scientifically exact,
     screwed up, scrupulous, scrutinizing, selective, semigloss,
     sensitive, serpentine, severe, shadowy, sharp, shifty, shrewd,
     simple, skillful, slender, slenderish, slick, slight, slight-made,
     slim, slimmish, slimy, slinky, slippery, sly, small, smarmy, smart,
     smooth, snaky, snarled, sneaky, sober, soft, soft-colored,
     soft-hued, softened, somber, sophistical, sophisticated,
     spirituous, square, stealthy, strategic, strict, subdued, subtile,
     supple, svelte, sweet, sylphlike, tactful, tactical, tangled,
     tangly, tender, tenuous, thin, thin-bodied, thin-set, thin-spun,
     thinned, thinned-out, thinnish, threadlike, trickish, tricksy,
     tricky, twisted, uncompact, uncompressed, underhanded, undeviating,
     unerring, unreal, unsubstantial, vague, vaporous, veiled, vulpine,
     wary, wasp-waisted, watered, watered-down, watery, weak, willowy,
     wily, windy, wiredrawn, wispy
  
  

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