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vocabulary
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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
  • With all the subtlety of a bulldozer I wrote my paper on the effect bipolar parents have on their children.
    Tara Westover  --  Educated
  • subtlety = non-obvious manner
  • 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's not the overt bullying that does it, either. It's the subtle manipulation of the situation. The bullying almost acts as cover for what's really going on.
    Neal Shusterman  --  Unwind
  • subtle = working in an indirect or hidden way
  • All this was accomplished with a subtlety so perfect, that the minister, though he had constantly a dim perception of some evil influence watching over him, could never gain a knowledge of its actual nature.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Scarlet Letter
  • subtlety = working in an indirect or 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

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
  • In the weeks that followed, Tyler began to test my parents in the subtle, nonconfrontational way that was uniquely his.
    Tara Westover  --  Educated
  • subtle = understated so as not to draw attention
  • They weren't very subtle.
    Malala Yousafzai  --  I Am Malala
  • subtle = understated (not obvious so it wouldn't be noticed)
  • 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 away as subtly as I could manage.
    John Green  --  Turtles All the Way Down
  • subtly = in a manner that does not draw attention
  • By then, Khala Jamila's initially subtle hints had become overt, as in "Kho dega!"
    Khaled Hosseini  --  The Kite Runner
  • subtle = mild (understated)
  • 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

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
  • The change was in subtler things—the tilt of Alyss' head, the particular sweep of her arms, her careful steps forward.
    Frank Beddor  --  The Looking Glass Wars
subtler = less noticeable

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