Sub"tile (?), a. [L. subtilis. See Subtile.]


Thin; not dense or gross; rare; as, subtile air; subtile vapor; a subtile medium.


Delicately constituted or constructed; nice; fine; delicate; tenuous; finely woven.

"A sotil [subtile] twine's thread."


More subtile web Arachne can not spin. Spenser.

I do distinguish plain Each subtile line of her immortal face. Sir J. Davies.


Acute; piercing; searching.

The slow disease and subtile pain. Prior.


Characterized by nicety of discrimination; discerning; delicate; refined; subtle.

[In this sense now commonly written subtle.]

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.

The subtile influence of an intellect like Emerson's. Hawthorne.


Sly; artful; cunning; crafty; subtle; as, a subtile person; a subtile adversary; a subtile scheme.

[In this sense now commonly written subtle.]

Syn. -- Subtile, Acute. 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.

-- Sub"tile*ly, adv. -- Sub"tile*ness, n.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.