1) N-COUNT: usu pl, usu with supp, oft N of n Subtleties are very small details or differences which are not obvious.

His fascination with the subtleties of human behaviour makes him a good storyteller...

When a book goes into translation, all those linguistic subtleties get lost.

2) N-UNCOUNT Subtlety is the quality of being not immediately obvious or noticeable, and therefore difficult to describe.

African dance is vigorous, but full of subtlety, requiring great strength and control...

Many of the resulting wines lack the subtlety of the original model.

3) N-UNCOUNT Subtlety is the ability to notice and recognize things which are not obvious, especially small differences between things.

She analyses herself with great subtlety.

4) N-UNCOUNT Subtlety is the ability to use indirect methods to achieve something, rather than doing something that is obvious.

They had obviously been hoping to approach the topic with more subtlety.


English dictionary. 2008.

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  • Subtlety — Sub tle*ty, n.; pl. {Subtleties}. [OE. sotelte, sutilte, OF. sotillete, L. subtilitas. See {Subtle}, and cf. {Subtility}.] 1. The quality or state of being subtle, or sly; cunning; craftiness; artfulness. [1913 Webster] The fox which lives by… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • subtlety — index discretion (quality of being discreet), evasion, nuance, subterfuge, technicality Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • subtlety — mid 14c., from O.Fr. soutilte, from L. subtilitatem (nom. subtilitas), noun of quality from subtilis (see SUBTLE (Cf. subtle)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • subtlety — [sut′ ltē] n. [ME sutelte < OFr sotillete < L subtilitas] 1. the quality or condition of being subtle; esp., the ability or tendency to make fine distinctions 2. pl. subtleties something subtle; esp., a fine distinction …   English World dictionary

  • subtlety — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ extreme, great, real VERB + SUBTLETY ▪ have ▪ Her dancing has great subtlety. ▪ display …   Collocations dictionary

  • subtlety — noun 1) the subtlety of the flavor Syn: delicacy, delicateness, subtleness; understatedness, mutedness, softness 2) classification is fraught with subtlety Syn: fineness, subtleness, niceness, nicety, nuance …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • subtlety — UK [ˈsʌt(ə)ltɪ] / US noun Word forms subtlety : singular subtlety plural subtleties 1) [uncountable] the quality of being complicated, delicate, or difficult to notice, often in a skilful or attractive way There is no subtlety at all about his… …   English dictionary

  • Subtlety — A subtlety (also sotelty or soteltie ) was an elaborate form of dish common during the late Middle Ages in Europe, particularly in England and France. [Laurioux, Bruno, Les livres de cuisine en Occident à la fin du Moyen Age , Thèse de doctorat:… …   Wikipedia

  • subtlety — sub|tle|ty [ˈsʌtlti] n plural subtleties 1.) [U] the quality that something has when it has been done in a clever or skilful way, with careful attention to small details ▪ The play lacks subtlety. ▪ She argued her case with considerable subtlety …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • subtlety — sub|tle|ty [ sʌtlti ] noun 1. ) uncount the quality of being complicated, delicate, or difficult to notice, often in a skillful or attractive way: There is no subtlety at all about his painting. Hickey s performance was magnificent in its… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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