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subtle
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War and Peace
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subtle
Used In
War and Peace
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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)
  • "I confess I do not understand: perhaps there are diplomatic subtleties here beyond my feeble intelligence, but I can’t make it out.

  • 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
  • The vicomte wished to begin his story and gave a subtle smile.
  • "In that case he is inviting his doom by awaiting our attack," said Langeron, with a subtly ironical smile, again glancing round for support to Miloradovich who was near him.

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  • "The doubt is flattering," said "the man of profound intellect," with a subtle smile.
  • My brother knows him, he’s dined with him—the present Emperor—more than once in Paris, and tells me he never met a more cunning or subtle diplomatist—you know, a combination of French adroitness and Italian play-acting!
  • A shrewd, kindly, yet subtly derisive expression lit up Kutuzov’s podgy face.
  • Next to Weyrother sat Count Langeron who, with a subtle smile that never left his typically southern French face during the whole time of the reading, gazed at his delicate fingers which rapidly twirled by its corners a gold snuffbox on which was a portrait.
  • Natasha on one side was talking with Sonya and Boris, and Vera with a subtle smile was saying something to Prince Andrew.
  • In this question he saw subtle cunning, as men of his type see cunning in everything, so he frowned and did not answer immediately.
  • Suddenly his face assumed a subtle expression, he shrugged his shoulders with an air of perplexity.
  • Everything was similar: the ladies’ subtle talk, the cards, the general raising his voice at the card table, and the samovar and the tea cakes; only one thing was lacking that he had always seen at the evening parties he wished to imitate.

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  • This something was a most subtle spiritual deduction from a conversation with Karataev the day before.
  • Kutuzov, shrugging his shoulders, replied with his subtle penetrating smile: "I meant merely to say what I said."
  • In the midst of the conversation she noticed "Granddad" give Bennigsen a quick, subtle glance, and then to her joys he saw that "Granddad" said something to "Long-coat" which settled him.
  • Vera, having noticed Prince Andrew’s attentions to Natasha, decided that at a party, a real evening party, subtle allusions to the tender passion were absolutely necessary and, seizing a moment when Prince Andrew was alone, began a conversation with him about feelings in general and about her sister.
  • "Sire!" said Michaud with a subtle, scarcely perceptible smile on his lips, having now prepared a well-phrased reply, "sire, I left the whole army, from its chiefs to the lowest soldier, without exception in desperate and agonized terror…."
  • The abbe, a well-fed man with a plump, clean-shaven chin, a pleasant firm mouth, and white hands meekly folded on his knees, sat close to Helene and, with a subtle smile on his lips and a peaceful look of delight at her beauty, occasionally glanced at her face as he explained his opinion on the subject.
  • Moreover, Speranski, either because he appreciated the other’s capacity or because he considered it necessary to win him to his side, showed off his dispassionate calm reasonableness before Prince Andrew and flattered him with that subtle flattery which goes hand in hand with self-assurance and consists in a tacit assumption that one’s companion is the only man besides oneself capable of understanding the folly of the rest of mankind and the reasonableness and profundity of one’s own…
  • This return to the subject of Natalie caused Prince Andrew to knit his brows with discomfort: he was about to rise, but Vera continued with a still more subtle smile: "I think no one has been more courted than she," she went on, "but till quite lately she never cared seriously for anyone.

  • 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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