Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

subtle - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective subtle pronunciation in British English /ˈsʌt(ə)l/
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    not obvious, and therefore difficult to notice
    a subtle scent of lilacs
    I detected a subtle change in his attitude towards us.
  2. 2
    indirect in a way that prevents people from noticing what you are trying to do
    He was being so subtle, I didn’t realize he liked me.
    subtle manipulation
  3. 3
    showing an ability to notice and understand small things that other people do not
    subtle observations
    It’s a subtle argument, but very convincing when you think about it.

derived word


The two prints are subtly different.
He subtly mentioned his sister was looking for a job.


a meal served in the evening which consists of foods traditionally eaten at breakfast

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

troll factory

a company that pays its employees to write online comments in favour or against somebody or something posing as ordinary Internet users

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog