Subtle

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 6246
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA
Contact:

Subtle

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:48 am

• subtle •

Pronunciation: sêt-l • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: So fine or refined as to be barely discernable, barely distinct, almost undetectable.

Notes: Today's good adjective compares the old-fashioned way, with suffixes: subtler and subtlest, the superlative. The noun is subtlety and the adverb, subtly. "So, where's the b in the pronunciation?" you might very well ask. Well, English doesn't do consonant clusters like BTL, so something has to go and B is it in this case.

In Play: Anything that is barely discernable by sight, sound, taste, feel, or smell is subtle: "Clara Belle's knocking at the door was so subtle that Irma Jean didn't hear it back in the kitchen." Visual subtlety is covered, too: "The slight drool emanating from the corner of Seamus Eaton's mouth was a subtle hint that he wanted to try Mrs. Farnsworth's fresh blackberry pie."

Word History: Old English borrowed this word from Old French soutil; later the spelling was adapted to Latin. Shakespeare spelled today's Good Word subtile as often as subtle in the First Folio. Latin subtilis "thin, fine, slender" was based on sub "under" + tela "web, woven stuff", a noun from texo "I weave, plait, braid". Subtilis would seem to have originally referred to the thread passing under the warp in weaving, apparently a finer thread. As you can see, the extended family of subtle includes textile, text, as well as architect and technology, that last one from the Greek derivative of the word for "weaving": techne "craft, skill". (We would like to thank Chuck Lee for the subtle reminder that subtle is an interesting word to explore.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 3333
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA
Contact:

Re: Subtle

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:40 pm

A favorite word of mine.
pl

Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 2484
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Re: Subtle

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jan 25, 2016 10:58 am

Former President Harry Truman was a voracious reader. However, he had few friends who read widely. Hence, he knew many words he could not pronounce correctly. I think I remember him saying subtle as sub'-tile. But perhaps that was another fellow with a different name.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 3333
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA
Contact:

Re: Subtle

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jan 25, 2016 10:13 pm

Or perhaps another man with the same name, like the ones who wrote the works of Homer and Shakespeare.
pl

Margaretsickles
Junior Lexiterian
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 5:46 am

Re: Subtle

Postby Margaretsickles » Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:20 am

Subtle is one of most liked word. I am very happy in sharing this word information here.


Return to “Good Word Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 20 guests