Definition of subtlety in English:

subtlety

noun

  • 1[mass noun] The quality or state of being subtle.

    ‘the textural subtlety of Degas’
    • ‘But this subtlety is swept aside in performances that are simply too hard-driven.’
    • ‘At least there was now some quality in the hitting, even if subtlety remained notably absent.’
    • ‘I could forgive the fetishizing of martyrdom if the film displayed a hint of subtlety or emotional resonance.’
    • ‘All the texture and subtlety of the script are brought out by a magnificent cast.’
    • ‘This was not simply due to their technical excellence, but their subtlety and force in emotional expression.’
    • ‘Is Gallic subtlety any match for the brute force of History?’
    • ‘Not exactly anyone's choice for purveyors of subtlety and wit.’
    • ‘A lot of women don't want to hurt a guy's feelings so they tend to be vague, but subtlety is lost on most men.’
    • ‘Let's have a bit of subtlety and sophistication here, qualities that postmodernists are always urging us to adopt.’
    • ‘A new way of imagining the song glimmers and vanishes before the chorus, as the subdued arrangement loses its subtlety and its way.’
    • ‘In fact, she manages to address most things with subtlety and dignity!’
    • ‘He didn't seem to notice - probably already had all the imagination and subtlety branded out of him during his GCSEs.’
    • ‘Today's methods are wider ranging, able to analyse with greater subtlety.’
    • ‘By doing so, they are making a political point, albeit with sledge-hammer subtlety.’
    • ‘Excellent dialogue and wryly amusing situations were wrung hard and without subtlety by the two main actors.’
    • ‘Characters sob or laugh hysterically rather than just frown or smile - subtlety is nowhere to be found.’
    • ‘The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, sing with subtlety as well as grace, in a CD well worth investigating.’
    • ‘Instead, there are collages of sound devoid of subtlety; colliding rhythms that make noise rather than sense.’
    • ‘They have many qualities, but subtlety is not their strong suit.’
    • ‘Most significantly, for all that they must be applied with subtlety of understanding, these techniques are fixed.’
    astuteness, keenness, acuteness, fineness, sharpness, razor-sharpness, sharp-wittedness, canniness, shrewdness, perceptiveness, perception, discernment, sensitivity, discrimination, penetration, percipience, perspicacity, perspicuity, acuity, sagacity, wisdom, cleverness, intelligence, skilfulness, skill, artfulness, dexterity, brightness, finesse
    ingenuity, cleverness, skilfulness, expertise, adroitness, complexity, intricacy, cunning, guile, craftiness, wiliness, artfulness, deviousness
    delicacy, delicateness, subtleness, elusiveness, faintness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[count noun]A subtle distinction, feature, or argument.
      ‘the subtleties of English grammar’
      • ‘Each song is a gem waiting for the viewer to uncover it, to behold its subtleties and nuances.’
      • ‘The subtleties and variances of language that can only come through in conversational speech are often lost.’
      • ‘The subtleties and nuances of psychiatric diagnosis render certainties virtually beyond reach in most situations.’
      • ‘Finns also listen very carefully and easily pick up subtleties and nuances.’
      • ‘You don't understand or register subtleties of human behaviour.’
      • ‘It was a mixture of the cheap yellow home-peroxided hair and their utter lack of humour, in all its subtleties and nuances.’
      • ‘It's a complex drink and though the main distinctions are vintage, tawny and ruby, numerous subtleties range in between.’
      • ‘It's more the kind of book you want to go back and read again in more detail taking notes and picking up on the subtleties and connections you know you missed.’
      • ‘There were also subtleties that enlivened the action without detracting from the music.’
      • ‘They are not interested in the diplomatic subtleties of what went on between the Quartet in New York.’
      • ‘It's the ability to enjoy art with discrimination and an appreciation of its subtleties.’
      • ‘The subtleties of the font don't translate well to pixels, and the proportions of the letters can cause problems.’
      • ‘The subtleties and nuances associated with all these modes of address would fill a sizeable volume.’
      • ‘These subtleties and uncertainties have encouraged speculation.’
      • ‘As an adult there were many subtleties that had completely escaped me, when I had originally watched the show.’
      • ‘She is in her element, understanding all the nuances and subtleties of what went on and why.’
      • ‘It's also true that you miss many of the nuances and subtleties of a finely crafted print.’
      • ‘Every time you go back to it, you can pick up different subtleties, nuances of flavour that you perhaps missed earlier.’
      • ‘There are many tribes within the generic group of Touaregs, each distinguished by subtleties of dress.’
      • ‘She also had an unusually keen grasp of the subtleties of croquet.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French soutilte, from Latin subtilitas, from subtilis fine, delicate (see subtle).

Pronunciation:

subtlety

/ˈsʌt(ə)lti/