(Sub"tle) a. [Compar. Subtler ; superl. Subtlest ] [OE. sotil, subtil, OF. soutil, later subtil, F.
subtil, L. subtilis; probably, originally, woven fine, and fr. sub under + tela a web, fr. texere to weave.
See Text, and cf. Subtile.]
1. Sly in design; artful; cunning; insinuating; subtile; applied to persons; as, a subtle foe. "A subtle traitor."
2. Cunningly devised; crafty; treacherous; as, a subtle stratagem.
3. Characterized by refinement and niceness in drawing distinctions; nicely discriminating; said of persons; as,
a subtle logician; refined; tenuous; sinuous; insinuating; hence, penetrative or pervasive; said of the mind; its
faculties, or its operations; as, a subtle intellect; a subtle imagination; a subtle process of thought; also,
difficult of apprehension; elusive.
Things remote from use, obscure and subtle.Milton.
4. Smooth and deceptive. [Obs.]
Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground [bowling ground].Shak.
Syn. Artful; crafty; cunning; shrewd; sly; wily. Subtle is the most comprehensive of these epithets and
implies the finest intellectual quality. See Shrewd, and Cunning.
(Sub"tle*ness) n. The quality or state of being subtle; 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.
The fox which lives by subtlety.Shak.
2. Nice discernment with delicacy of mental action; nicety of discrimination.
3. Something that is sly, crafty, or delusive.
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.Shak.
(Sub"tly) adv. In a subtle manner; slyly; artfully; cunningly.
Thou seest how subtly to detain thee I devise.Milton.
2. Nicely; delicately.
In the nice bee what sense so subtly true.Pope.
Subtly communicating itself to my sensibilities, but evading the analysis of my mind.Hawthorne.
3. Deceitfully; delusively. [Obs.] Shak.
(Sub*ton"ic) a. (Phonetics) Applied to, or distinguishing, a speech element consisting of tone,
or proper vocal sound, not pure as in the vowels, but dimmed and otherwise modified by some kind of
obstruction in the oral or the nasal passage, and in some cases with a mixture of breath sound; a
term introduced by Dr. James Rush in 1833. See Guide to Pronunciation, §§155, 199-202.