Subtile Sub"tile, a. [L. subtilis. See {Subtile}.] 1. Thin; not dense or gross; rare; as, subtile air; subtile vapor; a subtile medium. [1913 Webster]

2. Delicately constituted or constructed; nice; fine; delicate; tenuous; finely woven. ``A sotil [subtile] twine's thread.'' --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]

More subtile web Arachne can not spin. --Spenser. [1913 Webster]

I do distinguish plain Each subtile line of her immortal face. --Sir J. Davies. [1913 Webster]

3. Acute; piercing; searching. [1913 Webster]

The slow disease and subtile pain. --Prior. [1913 Webster]

5. Characterized by nicety of discrimination; discerning; delicate; refined; subtle. [In this sense now commonly written {subtle}.] [1913 Webster]

The genius of the Spanish people is exquisitely subtile, without being at all acute; hence there is so much humor and so little wit in their literature. The genius of the Italians, on the contrary, is acute, profound, and sensual, but not subtile; hence what they think to be humorous, is merely witty. --Coleridge. [1913 Webster]

The subtile influence of an intellect like Emerson's. --Hawthorne. [1913 Webster]

5. Sly; artful; cunning; crafty; subtle; as, a subtile person; a subtile adversary; a subtile scheme. [In this sense now commonly written {subtle}.] [1913 Webster]

Syn: {Subtile}, {Acute}.

Usage: In acute the image is that of a needle's point; in subtile that of a thread spun out to fineness. The acute intellect pierces to its aim; the subtile (or subtle) intellect winds its way through obstacles. [1913 Webster] -- {Sub"tile*ly}, adv. -- {Sub"tile*ness}, n. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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  • SUBTILE — apud Ecclesiae Rom. Scriptores vestis Subdiaconorum est, quae et Strictatunica et Turicella, vide ibi, appellatur. Durandus Ration l. 3. c. 30. Tunica, quae alibi Subtile, in lege vero ποδήρης. Canonicis Regularibus illam tribuit Io. Buschius,… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • subtile — index imponderable, subtle (refined) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • subtile — late 14c., clever, dexterous, from O.Fr. subtil (14c.), from L. subtilis fine, thin, delicate (see SUBTLE (Cf. subtle)). A Latinized refashioning of the French source of subtle …   Etymology dictionary

  • subtile — [sut′ l, sub′til] adj. [ME < MFr subtil, altered (infl. by L) < OFr soutil: see SUBTLE] now rare var. of SUBTLE subtilely adv. subtileness n. subtilty n. pl. subtilities subtility [səb til′ə tē] …   English World dictionary

  • subtile — ● subtil, subtile adjectif (latin subtilis) Qui a une grande finesse d esprit et de l ingéniosité : Un négociateur subtil. Intelligence subtile. Qui manifeste une habileté poussée parfois jusqu à l excès : Recourir à de subtiles arguties. Qui est …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • subtile — adjective (subtiler; subtilest) Etymology: Middle English subtile, sotil subtle Date: 14th century 1. subtle, elusive < a subtile aroma > 2. a. cunning, crafty b. sagacious, discerning …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • subtile — subtilely, adv. subtileness, n. /sut l, sub til/, adj., subtiler, subtilest. subtle. [1325 75; ME < L subtilis fine (orig. of fabric), equiv. to sub SUB + tilis, akin to tela cloth on a loom, loom ( < *teksla, deriv. of texere to weave; see… …   Universalium

  • subtile — sub·tile (sutґəl) [L. subtilis] keen and acute …   Medical dictionary

  • subtile — Synonyms and related words: Byzantine, Machiavellian, Machiavellic, acute, adulterated, air built, airy, arch, artful, astute, attenuate, attenuated, cagey, calculating, canny, chimerical, clever, cloud built, crafty, cunning, cut, cute, dainty,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • subtile — Dure …   Le nouveau dictionnaire complet du jargon de l'argot

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