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subtle
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Anna Karenina
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subtle
Used In
Anna Karenina
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as in: a subtle difference or thinker Define
not obvious, but understandable by someone with adequate sensitivity and relevant knowledge (perhaps depending upon fine distinctions) or: capable of understanding things that require sensitivity and relevant knowledge (perhaps understanding fine distinctions)
  • Levin had often noticed in discussions between the most intelligent people that after enormous efforts, and an enormous expenditure of logical subtleties and words, the disputants finally arrived at being aware that what they had so long been struggling to prove to one another had long ago, from the beginning of the argument, been known to both, but that they liked different things, and would not define what they liked for fear of its being attacked.

  • There are no more uses of "subtle" identified with this meaning, but check unspecified meaning below.

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  • She used subtle reasoning to expose the absurdity of his argument.
  • She guessed which spices were used by their subtle aromas.

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unspecified meaning
  • As he said this, Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled subtly.
  • "But, you know, there are always moral, spiritual causes at the back in these cases," the family doctor permitted himself to interpolate with a subtle smile.

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  • This man, so subtle and astute in official life, did not realize all the senselessness of such an attitude to his wife.
  • Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled a subtle affectionate smile as he listened to Levin.
  • Sergey Ivanovitch put in with a subtle smile.
  • With a face full of light and thought, full of a subtle, complex inner life, that was remote from Levin, she was gazing beyond him at the glow of the sunrise.
  • "It would be difficult to find two sons-in-law more unlike than yours," he said with a subtle smile.
  • Although his artistic sense was unceasingly at work collecting materials, although he felt a continually increasing excitement as the moment of criticizing his work drew nearer, he rapidly and subtly formed, from imperceptible signs, a mental image of these three persons.
  • …to his brother’s argument with the professor, he noticed that they connected these scientific questions with those spiritual problems, that at times they almost touched on the latter; but every time they were close upon what seemed to him the chief point, they promptly beat a hasty retreat, and plunged again into a sea of subtle distinctions, reservations, quotations, allusions, and appeals to authorities, and it was with difficulty that he understood what they were talking about.
  • "But," said Sergey Ivanovitch, smiling subtly, and addressing Karenin, "One must allow that to weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of classical and scientific studies is a difficult task, and the question which form of education was to be preferred would not have been so quickly and conclusively decided if there had not been in favor of classical education, as you expressed it just now, its moral—disons le mot—anti-nihilist influence."

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  • You can see by that whether I guess right or wrong," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, gazing at Levin with a subtle smile.
  • Now, perhaps, she doesn’t know on purpose," said Betsy, with a subtle smile.
  • " ’Nothing,’ " he put in with a subtle smile, "that’s the very best way.
  • "If it had not been for the distinctive property of anti-nihilistic influence on the side of classical studies, we should have considered the subject more, have weighed the arguments on both sides," said Sergey Ivanovitch with a subtle smile, "we should have given elbow-room to both tendencies.

  • There are no more uses of "subtle" in the book.


To see samples from other sources, click a word sense below:
as in: a subtle poison Define
working in an indirect or hidden way
as in: a subtle shade of blue Define
understated so as not to draw attention to itself
as in: a subtle difference or thinker Define
not obvious, but understandable by someone with adequate sensitivity and relevant knowledge (perhaps depending upon fine distinctions) or: capable of understanding things that require sensitivity and relevant knowledge (perhaps understanding fine distinctions)
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