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subtle
used in Moby Dick

19 uses
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1  —1 use 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)
  • Of all the wondrous devices and dexterities, the sleights of hand and countless subtleties, to which the veteran whaleman is so often forced, none exceed that fine manoeuvre with the lance called pitchpoling.
    Chapters 82-84 — The Honour and Glory of Whaling; Jonah Historically Regarded; Pitchpoling (81% in)

There are no more uses of "subtle" flagged with this meaning in Moby Dick.

Typical Usage  (best examples)
Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary list — Onelook.com®
?  —18 uses
exact meaning not specified
  • If he did not have a common soul in him, he had a subtle something that somehow anomalously did its duty.
    Chapters 106-108 — Ahab's Leg; The Carpenter; Ahab and the Carpenter (54% in)
  • This was strangely heightened at times by the ragged Elijah's diabolical incoherences uninvitedly recurring to me, with a subtle energy I could not have before conceived of.
    Chapters 28-30 — Ahab; (Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb); The Pipe (6% in)
  • And all these subtle agencies, more and more they wrought on Ahab's texture.
    Chapters 28-30 — Ahab; (Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb); The Pipe (55% in)
  • Gifted with the high perception, I lack the low, enjoying power; damned, most subtly and most malignantly! damned in the midst of Paradise!
    Chapters 37-39 — Sunset; Dusk; First Night-Watch (18% in)
  • All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick.
    Chapters 40-42 — Midnight, Forecastle; Moby Dick; The Whiteness of the Whale (45% in)
  • When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form.
    Chapters 40-42 — Midnight, Forecastle; Moby Dick; The Whiteness of the Whale (50% in)
  • But in a matter like this, subtlety appeals to subtlety, and without imagination no man can follow another into these halls.
    Chapters 40-42 — Midnight, Forecastle; Moby Dick; The Whiteness of the Whale (83% in)
  • But in a matter like this, subtlety appeals to subtlety, and without imagination no man can follow another into these halls.
    Chapters 40-42 — Midnight, Forecastle; Moby Dick; The Whiteness of the Whale (83% in)
  • Not only that, but the subtle insanity of Ahab respecting Moby Dick was noways more significantly manifested than in his superlative sense and shrewdness in foreseeing that, for the present, the hunt should in some way be stripped of that strange imaginative impiousness which naturally invested it; that the full terror of the voyage must be kept withdrawn into the obscure background (for few men's courage is proof against protracted meditation unrelieved by action); that when they...
    Chapters 46-48 — Surmises; The Mat-Maker; The First Lowering (6% in)
  • But when Steelkilt made known his determination still to lead them to the last, they in some way, by some subtle chemistry of villany, mixed their before secret treacheries together; and when their leader fell into a doze, verbally opened their souls to each other in three sentences; and bound the sleeper with cords, and gagged him with cords; and shrieked out for the Captain at midnight.
    Chapters 52-54 — The Albatross; The Gam; The Town-Ho's Story (73% in)
  • Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure.
    Chapters 58-60 — Brit; Squid; The Line (25% in)
  • All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life.
    Chapters 58-60 — Brit; Squid; The Line (99% in)
  • True, both his eyes, in themselves, must simultaneously act; but is his brain so much more comprehensive, combining, and subtle than man's, that he can at the same moment of time attentively examine two distinct prospects, one on one side of him, and the other in an exactly opposite direction?
    Chapters 73-75 — Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale; The Sperm Whale's Head, The Right Whale's Head (59% in)
  • If then, Sir William Jones, who read in thirty languages, could not read the simplest peasant's face in its profounder and more subtle meanings, how may unlettered Ishmael hope to read the awful Chaldee of the Sperm Whale's brow?
    Chapters 79-81 — The Prairie; The Nut; The Pequod Meets the Virgin (15% in)
  • Such is the subtle elasticity of the organ I treat of, that whether wielded in sport, or in earnest, or in anger, whatever be the mood it be in, its flexions are invariably marked by exceeding grace.
    Chapters 85-87 — The Fountain; The Tail; The Grand Armada (30% in)
  • In this central expanse the sea presented that smooth satin-like surface, called a sleek, produced by the subtle moisture thrown off by the whale in his more quiet moods.
    Chapters 85-87 — The Fountain; The Tail; The Grand Armada (78% in)
  • Some of the subtlest secrets of the seas seemed divulged to us in this enchanted pond.
    Chapters 85-87 — The Fountain; The Tail; The Grand Armada (87% in)
  • Ah, mortal! then, be heedful; for so, in all this din of the great world's loom, thy subtlest thinkings may be overheard afar.
    Chapters 100-102 — The Pequod meets....; The Decanter; A Bower in the Arsacides (88% in)

There are no more uses of "subtle" in Moby Dick.

Typical Usage  (best examples)
Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary list — Onelook.com®