American English

Definition of subtle adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    (subtler, subtlest)
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  1. 1more subtle is also common (often approving) not very noticeable or obvious subtle colors/flavors/smells, etc. There are subtle differences between the two versions. The fragrance is a subtle blend of jasmine and sandalwood. She's been dropping subtle hints about what she'd like as a present.
  2. 2(of a person or their behavior) behaving in a smart and skillful way, and using indirect methods, in order to achieve something I decided to try a more subtle approach.
  3. 3organized in a smart and skillful way a subtle plan a subtle use of lighting in the play
  4. 4good at noticing and understanding things The job required a subtle mind.
adverb Her version of events is subtly different from what actually happened. Not very subtly, he raised the subject of money. Government policy has already shifted subtly.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: subtle