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subtle

used in a sentence
3 meanings
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1  —as in:
a subtle poison
Definition working in an indirect or hidden way
  • She is working subtly against us.
subtly = working in a way that is hard to see
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • It is a subtle poison. In small doses, it might never be detected, but eventually your heart will fail.
  • subtle = working in a way that is hard to see
  • Or Katharine would die, and by subtle maneuverings Winston and Julia would succeed in getting married.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • subtle = indirect or hidden
  • There wasn't any poison, nothing as subtle as that.
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
  • subtle = working in a hidden way
  • It was one thing to screw up a huge weapon. It was another thing to screw it up so subtly that no one noticed until it was too late.
    Rick Riordan  --  The Blood of Olympus
  • subtly = working in an indirect or hidden way
  • What if this were all a subtle trap?
    Corrie ten Boom  --  The Hiding Place
  • subtle = working in an indirect or hidden way
  • she hated Miriam for having in this subtle way undermined his joy.
    D.H. Lawrence  --  Sons and Lovers
  • subtle = working in an indirect or hidden way
  • He had felt a subtle, dark, and murmurous presence penetrate his being...
    James Joyce  --  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • subtle = hidden and harmful
  • There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships.
    Arthur Miller  --  The Crucible
  • subtle = working in an indirect or hidden way
  • Some were shamelessly open, some shamelessly subtle.
    John Howard Griffin  --  Black Like Me
subtle = working in an indirect or hidden way

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary list — Onelook.com®
2  —as in:
a subtle shade of blue
Definition understated so as not to draw attention to itself
  • Her warning was subtle, but unmistakable.
subtle = understated (so as not to draw attention to itself)
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • She likes dramatic statements, but he prefers to be subtle.
  • subtle = understated or restrained (to say things in a quiet way)
  • a subtle elegance
  • Her hair was done up with a row of yellow jewels pinned into a line across the front in a very subtle resemblance to a crown.
    Kiera Cass  --  The Selection
  • subtle = not obvious, but noticeable
  • I pulled into an open spot and looked up at a tastefully subtle sign that read JASON SCOTT, ATTORNEY AT LAW.
    Stephenie Meyer  --  Breaking Dawn
  • subtle = understated so as not to draw attention to itself
  • The river slid by in a body, utterly silent and swift, intertwining among itself like some subtle, complex creature.
    D.H. Lawrence  --  Sons and Lovers
  • subtle = understated so as not to draw attention to itself
  • It is not bad—at first, and very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met.
    Charlotte Perkins Gilman  --  The Yellow Wallpaper
  • subtlest = most understated
  • It was easy enough to find the action—two hundred–odd kids gathered around a raging bonfire to eat wasn't exactly subtle.
    Alexandra Bracken  --  The Darkest Minds
  • subtle = understated so as not to draw attention to itself
  • And we ourselves become somehow not ourselves, but we turn subtler, weirder, less attached to our bodies, less attached to our names.
    David Almond  --  Clay
  • subtler = more understated (less obvious as individuals)
  • Charlie, in an obvious maneuver that he meant to be subtle, shrugged in between us and put his arm around my shoulders.
    Stephenie Meyer  --  Eclipse
subtle = understated so as not to draw attention

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary list — Onelook.com®
3  —as in:
a subtle difference or thinker
Definition 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)
  • She used subtle reasoning to expose the absurdity of his argument.
subtle = making use of slight distinctions
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • She guessed which spices were used by their subtle aromas.
  • subtle = not obvious, but identifiable by someone with adequate sensitivity and relevant knowledge
  • She has a good eye for subtle differences in color.
  • subtle = not obvious, but identifiable by someone with adequate sensitivity
  • Her whole attitude had undergone a subtle change.
  • subtle = not obvious, but noticeable by someone with adequate sensitivity
  • Without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports.
    Sun, Tzu  --  The Art of War
  • His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • subtle = requiring fine distinctions and relevant knowledge
  • But those changes are subtle and hard to measure.
    Louis Sachar  --  Holes
  • subtle = difficult to notice
  • In a hard and warlike time he was celebrate that he have more iron nerve, more subtle brain, more braver heart, than any man.
    Bram Stoker  --  Dracula
  • subtle = clever (capable of understanding things not comprehensible to most)
  • You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking,
    J.K. Rowling  --  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • subtle = difficult to understand without adequate sensitivity and relevant knowledge
  • I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all — Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
subtly = not obvious (perhaps depending upon little understood distinctions)

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary list — Onelook.com®
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