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Subtle   /sˈətəl/   Listen
Subtle

adjective
(compar. subtler; superl. subtlest)
1.
Difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze.  Synonym: elusive.  "A subtle difference" , "That elusive thing the soul"
2.
Able to make fine distinctions.
3.
Working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way.  Synonyms: insidious, pernicious.  "A subtle poison"






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Subtle" Quotes from Famous Books



... and soon the leg began to swell. The poor animal proceeded with the greatest difficulty. What remedies to apply we neither of us knew, but we had heard of the existence of a small snake called the aranas, the poison from whose fangs is so subtle that animals bitten often die within an hour; and even when remedies are ...
— In New Granada - Heroes and Patriots • W.H.G. Kingston

... which Ferdinand would have been freed from his secret engagement with Austria, was exactly what Metternich desired to frustrate. He found himself matched, and not for the first time, against a statesman who was even more subtle than himself. This was Count Capodistrias, a Greek who from a private position had risen to be Foreign Minister of Russia, and was destined to become the first sovereign, in reality if not in title, of his native land. Capodistrias, the sympathetic partner of the Czar's ...
— History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 • C. A. Fyffe

... hearing, seeing and perceiving all sensibles by it everywhere. For which cause Aristotle himself affirmeth in his Metaphysics that there is properly but one sense and one Sensory. He by this one sensory meaneth the spirit, or subtle airy body, in which the sensitive power doth all of it through the whole immediately apprehend all variety of sensibles. And if it be demanded to how it comes to pass that this spirit becomes organized in sepulchres, and most commonly of human form, but sometimes in the forms of other animals, ...
— Five Years Of Theosophy • Various

... this service," the old man began, "and the longer I live the less time I waste in trying to understand the difference between the Indian race and ours. I've about reached the conclusion that it's due to some subtle chemical ingredient in the blood. One race is lively and progressive, the other is sluggish and atavistic. The white man is ever developing, he's always advancing, always expanding; the red man is marking time or walking backward. It is only a matter of time until ...
— Laughing Bill Hyde and Other Stories • Rex Beach

... heavily on the breast of Captain Purvis, sadly-crushed as it was already by the spiteful stroke bitterly intended for him. His own men had meant no harm whatever, unless to the proper enemy; although they appear to have been deluded by a subtle device of the Councillor, for which on the other hand none may blame him. But those redfaced men, without any inquiry, turned the muzz'l's of their guns upon Somerset, and the injustice rankled for a generation between two equally honest counties. Happily they ...
— Slain By The Doones • R. D. Blackmore

... different in colour, in quality, in value—a stone I have never seen before. How has he obtained it—whence? I must brace myself to probe, to watch; I must turn myself into an eye to search this devil's-bosom. My life, this subtle, cunning Reason of mine, ...
— Prince Zaleski • M.P. Shiel

... of a design to usurp the sovereignty of Sienna; nor was any remedy then available, for the republic had formed a new alliance with the king, and were at enmity with the pope and the Venetians. This suspicion was entertained not only by the great body of the Florentine people, who were subtle interpreters of appearances, but by the principal members of the government; and it was agreed, on all hands, that the city never was in so much danger of losing her liberty. But God, who in similar extremities has always been her preserver, caused an unhoped-for event ...
— History Of Florence And Of The Affairs Of Italy - From The Earliest Times To The Death Of Lorenzo The Magnificent • Niccolo Machiavelli

... of a people who treated us so well. A very short while sufficed to prove that this apparent kindness of disposition was only the result of a deeply laid plan for our destruction, and that the islanders for whom we entertained such inordinate feelings of esteem, were among the most barbarous, subtle, and bloodthirsty wretches that ever contaminated the face ...
— The Works of Edgar Allan Poe - Volume 3 (of 5) of the Raven Edition • Edgar Allan Poe

... she was sober, the nerves that made the life she was leading seem loathsome beyond the power of habit to accustom. With these nerves stupefied, her natural gayety asserted itself, and a fondness for quiet and subtle mockery—her indulgence in it did not make her popular with vain men sufficiently acute ...
— Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise • David Graham Phillips

... have analyzed the flame that burns in our lamp, and the flame that burns in the sun, by the same instrument,—connecting by a common affinity, at the same instant and under the same eye, two agents, the farthest removed in place and the most subtle in essence. As we have overcome distances, so we have conquered time, reading the story of antecedent cycles with a confidence equal to that with which we forecast the future ages. The philosopher who penetrates the distant portions of the universe by the omnipresence of his scientific ...
— Choice Specimens of American Literature, And Literary Reader - Being Selections from the Chief American Writers • Benj. N. Martin

... and little real application, he maintains an appearance of both by impositions and professions, which at a time so averse to inquiry as the present pass for facts. Lord George Germain, though cradled in England, has all the principles of a Scotchman; subtle, proud, tyrannical, and false. In consequence of his patronising the Scots, they have always been his panegyrists and his advocates, and as they are a people indefatigable in all interested pursuits, they have procured him a character for ability, which he very little deserves. Dissimulation ...
— The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. IX • Various

... meeting eyes of grey would, for no perceptible reason, grow sweetly troubled, waver in their glance, and veil themselves beneath sudden, down-drooping lashes? What mere words could ever describe all the subtle, elusive witchery ...
— The Definite Object - A Romance of New York • Jeffery Farnol

... the sentences are mental landscapes. The meaning seems to be in motion on the page. It is elusive from its very subtlety. It is more our analyst than her character of Rufus Lyon, who "would fain find language subtle enough to follow the utmost intricacies of the soul's pathways." Mrs. Transome's "lancet-edged epigrams" are dull in comparison with her own. She uses them with startling success in dissecting motive and analyzing feeling. They deserve as ...
— The Essays of "George Eliot" - Complete • George Eliot

... from this branch of government we have most to fear. Taxes and short elections will keep them right. The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general ...
— Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson - Volume I • Thomas Jefferson

... goaded by the knowledge that he was, in a measure, under surveillance, which he was sure was instituted by Gallito and Flick and connived at by Hughie; a watchfulness so subtle that it convinced him even while he doubted. He felt often as if he were stalked by some stealthy and implacable animal. This situation, imaginary or real, began to affect his nerves and he would undoubtedly have left had it not been for his mounting passion ...
— The Black Pearl • Mrs. Wilson Woodrow

... a great temptation through which he passed at that moment; a temptation all the more subtle in that he could tell himself truly it was for her sake he hesitated. One word to Jacques Benoix, and the thing he dreaded, the thing suddenly so near, would never ...
— Kildares of Storm • Eleanor Mercein Kelly

... to-day to a writer whose subtle genius defies analysis but demands reverent appreciation. Ruby L. Binns came into my own intellectual life at a rather critical stage in my reading. Like most young men of the early nineteen-noughts, I had fallen under the spell of Guy Beverley, whose Only ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, May 3, 1916 • Various

... as at Oxford, expect to find its inhabitants all saints. No: I had heard much of their vices. The subtle and ingenious arts, by which they trick and prey upon each other, had been pictured to me as highly dangerous; and of these arts, self confident as I was, I stood in some awe. But fore warned, said I, fore armed: and that I was not easily to be circumvented ...
— The Adventures of Hugh Trevor • Thomas Holcroft

... provincial life, was fully roused. Madame Hochon had been agreeably surprised that morning to perceive, from a few affectionate words which the old man had said to her about Agathe, that so able and subtle an auxiliary was on ...
— The Two Brothers • Honore de Balzac

... experiences of the past caused considerable doubt to arise within me. I had had warnings that my mysterious enemies would attack me secretly, by some subtle means. Was this Frenchman one ...
— Hushed Up - A Mystery of London • William Le Queux

... to Trent, turning at that moment to relight his cigar, that a look of subtle intelligence was flashed from one to the other of the brothers. He paused with the match in his fingers, puzzled, suspicious, anxious. So there was some scheme hatched already between these precious pair! It was time indeed ...
— A Millionaire of Yesterday • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... was very like both of us, for Lola, when defending the existence of the soul against an atheist, to tumble over a great trunk of books of the most varied kind, till she came to an old vellum-bound copy of Apuleius, and proceed to establish her views according to his subtle neo-Platonism. But she romanced and embroidered so much in conversation that she did not get credit for ...
— The Magnificent Montez - From Courtesan to Convert • Horace Wyndham

... there that does not involve self-restraint, modesty, habitual consideration of others, and, to a large extent, living for others. Yet other Rules draw on the profounder deeps of wisdom and virtue, under a subtle guise of handsome behaviour. If youth can be won to excellence by love of ...
— George Washington's Rules of Civility - Traced to their Sources and Restored by Moncure D. Conway • Moncure D. Conway

... God, And when Jove's favor shall have given us Troy, A threefold, fourfold share shall then be thine. To whom the Sovereign of the host replied. 160 Godlike Achilles, valiant as thou art, Wouldst thou be subtle too? But me no fraud Shall overreach, or art persuade, of thine. Wouldst thou, that thou be recompensed, and I Sit meekly down, defrauded of my due? 165 And didst thou bid me yield her? Let the bold Achaians give me competent ...
— The Iliad of Homer - Translated into English Blank Verse • Homer

... between beards and birds, and the secret source of that attraction which frequently impels a shaver of the one to be a dealer in the other, are questions for the subtle reasoning of scientific bodies; not the less so, because their investigation would seem calculated to lead to no particular result. It is enough to know that the artist who had the honour of entertaining Mrs Gamp as his first-floor lodger, united the two pursuits of barbering and bird-fancying; ...
— Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit • Charles Dickens

... casting himself on his bed fell into a profound slumber. He slept for nearly a night and a day, and when he awoke his adventures seemed to him a wild dream, and like a dream were half-forgotten although they exerted a subtle influence on his waking thoughts ...
— Fairy Tales from the German Forests • Margaret Arndt

... marble courts in voluptuous but easy and graceful dances. Here sculptors carved away amidst admiring pupils, and forms of supernatural beauty grew out of Parian marble in a quarter of an hour; and grave philosophers conversed on high and subtle matters, with youth listening reverently; it was a long time ago. And still beneath all this wonderful panorama a sort of suspicion or expectation lurked in the dreamer's mind. "This is a prologue, a flourish, there is something behind; something that means me no good, something ...
— The Cloister and the Hearth • Charles Reade

... convention of parts. The group with insufficient attraction back of it topples toward us, to be sustained within the harmonious circuit of the picture only by such items of attraction behind it as will recover a balance which their absence gave proof of. This is a more subtle but none the less potent influence than the vertical and lateral balance and may best be apprehended negatively. The "aggressiveness" of many foreground items which are in themselves essential as form and correct in value is caused by the lack of their ...
— Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures • Henry Rankin Poore

... means appointed of God to quicken, convince, and sanctify man; so they opened to them what it was in itself, and what it was given to them for; how they might know it from their own spirit, and that of the subtle appearance of the evil one: and what it would do for all those whose minds should be turned off from the vanity of the world, and its lifeless ways and teachers, and adhere to his blessed light in themselves, ...
— A Brief Account of the Rise and Progress of the People Called Quakers • William Penn

... spotted thought its taint disclose Under the protest of a cheek Outbragging Nature's boast the rose. In mind and manners how discreet; How artless in her very art; How candid in discourse; how sweet The concord of her lips and heart; How simple and how circumspect; How subtle and how fancy-free; Though sacred to her love, how deck'd With unexclusive courtesy; How quick in talk to see from far The way to vanquish or evade; How able her persuasions are To prove, her reasons to persuade; How (not to call ...
— The Angel in the House • Coventry Patmore

... copesmates, are at large set downe in the former two Bookes: let it suffise yee then in this, to read the simple true discourses of such as have by extraordinary cunning and treachery beene deceived, and remembering their subtle meanes there, and slye practises here, be prepared against the ...
— The Third And Last Part Of Conny-Catching. (1592) - With the new deuised knauish arte of Foole-taking • R. G.

... purpose for its reception, where an inscription testifies to the regard in which it was then held.[180] This Magdalen is didactic in purpose. Donatello seems to have given less attention to the modelling, subtle as it is, than to the concentration of the one absorbing lesson which was to be conveyed to the spectator. His object was to show repentance, abject unqualified remorse; purified by suffering, refined by bodily hardship, and sustained by the "sun of discipline and virtue." There is no luxury in ...
— Donatello • David Lindsay, Earl of Crawford

... A subtle-witted man is like an arrow, which, rending little surface, enters deeply, but they whose minds are dull resemble stones dashing with clumsy ...
— Book of Wise Sayings - Selected Largely from Eastern Sources • W. A. Clouston

... acquiesced in, would indicate a degree of abject slavery to man and unfaithfulness to God that might sink Scotland into a condition little better than that of some eastern nations at the present day. Thus was the camp of the Covenanters divided. There were also more subtle divisions, which it is not necessary to mention here, and in both camps, of course there was an infusion, especially amongst the young men, of that powerful element—love of excitement and danger for their own sake, with little if any regard ...
— Hunted and Harried • R.M. Ballantyne

... Economic Independence is not always a subtle one. There was that about Clara Bloom, even to the rather Hellenic swing of her very tailor-made back and the firm, neat clack of her not too high heels, which proclaimed that a new century had filed her fetter-free from the nine-teen-centuries-long chain of women whose pin-money ...
— Humoresque - A Laugh On Life With A Tear Behind It • Fannie Hurst

... inasmuch as the habit of knowledge is increased; the other in effect—e.g. if someone were with one and the same habit of knowledge to prove to someone else some minor truths at first, and afterwards greater and more subtle conclusions. Now in this second way it is plain that Christ advanced in knowledge and grace, even as in age, since as His age increased He wrought greater deeds, and showed greater knowledge ...
— Summa Theologica, Part III (Tertia Pars) - From the Complete American Edition • Thomas Aquinas

... indeed, the lover from infancy of Beatrice, the aristocratic magistrate of a fierce democracy, the valiant soldier in the field of Campaldino, the fervent patriot in the feuds of Guelphs and Ghibellines, the eloquent and subtle disputant in the school of theology, the melancholy exile wandering from court to court, depending for bread and shelter on petty princes who knew not his worth, except as a splendid captive in their train; and above all, ...
— Mrs. Shelley • Lucy M. Rossetti

... wise Herr Baumbach down in the kitchen! O, subtle Frau Baumbach back of the desk!" said I. "Others may fit their shops with mirrors, and cut-glass chandeliers and Oriental rugs and mahogany, but you sit serenely by, and you smile, and you change nothing. You let the brown walls grow dimmer ...
— Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed • Edna Ferber

... cannot be "legally" dislodged; and if they step aside, it is only to let alter egos take their place. The King of England—the Emperor of Germany—can be deposed by the people, and his head cut off; but the free and independent—but law-abiding—citizens of the United States cannot throw off this subtle tyranny, because it is identified with legal provisions which we have insensibly allowed to creep into the inmost and most personal fibers of our lives. As for modifying or abolishing the law itself—that ...
— The Subterranean Brotherhood • Julian Hawthorne

... the child grew from childhood into boyhood and from boyhood into manhood, and from being curious about all things he became busy with strange and subtle thoughts which came to him in dreams, and with distinctions between things long held the same and with the resemblance of things long held different. Multitudes came from other lands to see him and to ask his counsel, but there ...
— The Secret Rose • W. B. Yeats

... [Footnote: SERRES CHAUDES, SUIVIES DE QUINZE CHANSONS, par Maurice Maeterlinck. Brussels. Lacomblez.] As Maeterlinck uses them, words which seem at first to create only a neutral impression have really a more subtle value. Even a familiar word like "hair," if used in a certain way can intensify an atmosphere of sorrow or despair. And this is Maeterlinck's method. He shows that thunder, lightning and a moon behind driving ...
— Concerning the Spiritual in Art • Wassily Kandinsky

... foe. The infant was nearly frightened to death, and followed as quickly as his awkward wings would carry him. I do not like to figure as "Rawhead and bloody-bones" in the nursery of even a crow baby, so I tried several times to redeem the bad name of my race. But to no avail; that subtle mamma had acquired her wisdom by experience, and she knew me as one of a species quite capable of ...
— Little Brothers of the Air • Olive Thorne Miller

... (who knew not, as we do, how much had been indeed revealed), and measure with some justice the strength of the temptation which betrayed these teachers into adding to the word of Revelation. Together with this specious and subtle influence, we must allow for the instinct of imagination exerting itself in the acknowledged embellishment of beloved truths. If we reflect how much, even in this age of accurate knowledge, the visions of Milton have become ...
— Giotto and his works in Padua • John Ruskin

... a flow of blood towards the brain produces a stupefaction of the mind. Analogous or inverse effects might evidently be produced by a subtle, invisible, imponderable fluid, by a sort of nervous fluid, or magnetic fluid (if this term be preferred), circulating through our organs. And the commissioners took good care not to speak on this subject of impossibility. Their thesis ...
— Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men • Francois Arago

... heart was beating excitedly. The mystery of Fort o' God was about him, warm and subtle, like a strange spirit, sending through him the thrill of anticipation, a hundred fancies, little fears. Pierre advanced, still guiding him; then he stopped, and chuckled softly in the darkness. The distant voice had stopped singing, and there ...
— Flower of the North • James Oliver Curwood

... as we have seen, that there were only three people in the Conference: Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George. Orlando, he remarks, spoke little, and Italy had no importance. With subtle irony he notes that Wilson talked like a University don criticizing an essay with the didactic logic of the professor. The truth is that after having made the mistake of staying in the Conference he did not see that his whole edifice was tumbling down, and he let mistakes ...
— Peaceless Europe • Francesco Saverio Nitti

... him. She had thought him rather coarse and stupid; but she had changed her mind. He was not what may be called subtle; he had no patience at all with such things as scruples, nuances, and shades of tone and meaning; but if you put a plain question to him plainly, he gave you a plain answer, if he knew it; if not, he looked it up then and there; and that ...
— The Necromancers • Robert Hugh Benson

... travellers; as if they bore a charmed life, they went to and fro, seeing whatever was fine or memorable, and yet all unable to satisfy that thirst for beauty which the beautiful around them had excited. Madame de Hell was under the influence of a subtle spell; her quick fancy was profoundly impressed by the picturesque aspects of Oriental life, by its glow of colour and grace of form, so different from the commonplace and monotonous realities of the West. She seemed to be living in the old days of the Khalifs—those days ...
— Celebrated Women Travellers of the Nineteenth Century • W. H. Davenport Adams

... have heard from one or two reports of encouraging words, and even something more than words, which she had vouchsafed to them. A solution is impossible. The affinities, repulsions, reasons in a nature like that of Miss Leroy's are so secret and so subtle, working towards such incalculable and not-to-be-predicted results, that to attempt to make a major and minor premiss and an inevitable conclusion out of them would be useless. One thing was clear, that by marrying George she gained great freedom. If she had married anybody closer to ...
— Mark Rutherford's Deliverance • Mark Rutherford

... should come to a resolution that three and two make five, we should be entertained with logic and rhetoric, law, history, politics, and mathematics; and then—we should pass the resolution unanimously in the affirmative. These great wits, these subtle critics, these refined geniuses, these learned lawyers, these wise statesmen, are so fond of showing their parts and powers as to make their consultations very tedious. Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect ...
— Beacon Lights of History, Volume XI • John Lord

... tyrants to mislead; 450 Which in a fair proportion to deny Allegiance dares not; which to hold too high, No good can wish, no coward king can dare, And, held too high, no English subject bear; Besieged by men of deep and subtle arts, Men void of principle, and damn'd with parts, Who saw his weakness, made their king their tool, Then most a slave, when most he seem'd to rule; Taking all public steps for private ends, Deceived by favourites, whom he called friends, 460 He had not strength ...
— Poetical Works • Charles Churchill

... can be so frivolous, I may almost say, as to attend to the gross but somewhat foreign form of servitude called Negro Slavery, there are so many keen and subtle masters that enslave both North and South. It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself. Talk of a divinity in man! Look at the teamster on the highway, wending to ...
— Walden, and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience • Henry David Thoreau

... of Shin-gon, the subtle points of an argument are seized and elaborated. These are mystical on the one side, and pantheistic on the other. It is easily seen how Buddha, being in Japanese gods as well as men, and no being without ...
— The Religions of Japan - From the Dawn of History to the Era of Meiji • William Elliot Griffis

... saw that she needed, that she would have, rest. Rest, this night, from all that of late had given her weariness and trouble. So, he did not even talk to her in the way they mostly talked together; he would not rouse, ever so distantly, thought, that might, by so many subtle links, bear round upon her hidden pain. But he brought, after tea, a tiny chessboard, and set the delicate carved men upon it, and asked her if ...
— Faith Gartney's Girlhood • Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney

... him in the direct path of duty; the poison had been breathed in with the perfume of sweetest and most life-giving flowers: nor could he shun that temptation, nor cease to inhale that fatal sweetness, without confessing himself vanquished in a point where, in his view, to yield was to be lost. The subtle and deceitful visit of Father Johannes to his cell had the effect of thoroughly rousing him to a complete sense of his position, and making him feel the immediate, absolute necessity of bringing all the energy of his will, all ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 09, No. 51, January, 1862 • Various

... The son of a baker in Rosemary Lane, he early deserted his father's oven for a life of adventure; and he claims to have been the first collector who, stealing the money, yet left the case. The new method was incomparably more subtle than the old: it afforded an opportunity of a hitherto unimagined delicacy; the wielders of the scissors were aghast at a skill which put their own clumsiness to shame, and which to a previous generation ...
— A Book of Scoundrels • Charles Whibley

... very shortly you are to feel well again." Further on he says: "If you went through the ceremony calmly, or even with sufficient composure not to excite alarm in any present, you are safe beyond question," seeking by every device of subtle affection to lift up the heart of ...
— Abraham Lincoln: A History V1 • John G. Nicolay and John Hay

... are packed with Alpine crystals, photographs of scenery, and wooden and ivory carvings. I will not conceal the fact that miniature figures of the Lion of Lucerne are to be had in them. Millions of them. But they are libels upon him, every one of them. There is a subtle something about the majestic pathos of the original which the copyist cannot get. Even the sun fails to get it; both the photographer and the carver give you a dying lion, and that is all. The shape is right, the attitude is right, the proportions are right, but that indescribable ...
— Innocents abroad • Mark Twain

... yet they were in touch with those giants and were themselves lesser giants. He was pleased, too, with their attitude toward him. They met him deferentially, but not patronizingly. It was the deference of equality, and Daylight could not escape the subtle flattery of it; for he was fully aware that in experience as well as wealth they were far and ...
— Burning Daylight • Jack London

... at my enthusiasm, lifted the instrument to his shoulder and began to play. If I live to be a hundred I'll never forget that music! Like the soothing winds of summer, the subtle fragrance of a wild rose, the elusive phantoms of our dreams, it stirred my soul. I sat as ...
— Patchwork - A Story of 'The Plain People' • Anna Balmer Myers

... he never exaggerated in the suggestion of force concealed beneath his careless, mirthful manner. Irene, in spite of her humorous observation, hung upon his speech. Involuntarily, she glanced at his delicate complexion, at the whiteness and softness of his ungloved hand, and felt in a subtle way this combination of the physically fine with the morally hard, trenchant, tenacious. Close your eyes, and Arnold Jacks was a high-bred bulldog endowed with speech; not otherwise would a game animal of that species, advanced to ...
— The Crown of Life • George Gissing

... figure in ideal portraits. At the best, I have always thought such representations futile. You will not easily find a second Thackeray. How he can render, with a few black lines and dots, shades of expression so fine, so real; traits of character so minute, so subtle, so difficult to seize and fix, I cannot tell—I can only wonder and admire. Thackeray may not be a painter, but he is a wizard of a draughtsman; touched with his pencil, paper lives. And then his drawing is so refreshing; after the wooden limbs one is accustomed ...
— Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle • Clement K. Shorter

... just enough to show that she knew what he meant. 'If you were as bold as you are subtle, you would take a more cheerful view of the matter,' she said, with a ...
— The Hand of Ethelberta • Thomas Hardy

... historian of Italy has said, that whenever the simple and truthful German came amongst the plotting and artful Italians and experienced their duplicity and craft, he straightway became more false and subtle than the Italians themselves: to his own countrymen, indeed, he continued to retain his characteristic sincerity and good faith; but, once duped and tricked by the southern schemers, as if with a fierce scorn, he rejected troth with ...
— Harold, Complete - The Last Of The Saxon Kings • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... suggesting a run up to London, expressing the peculiar satisfaction which he felt in celebrating Easter at St Paul's, which to his fancy was like going up to Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover. The doctor was wisely deaf to this subtle appeal. 'Edinburgh,' said he, 'is not yet exhausted,' and reminded him that his wife, having permitted him last year to ramble, had now a claim upon him at home, while to come to Iona or to Jerusalem could not be necessary, though ...
— James Boswell - Famous Scots Series • William Keith Leask

... with a cold inflection which suggested a ban. No Benhamite has ever been able to explain precisely why it should be more creditable to live on one side of the same street than on the other, but I have been told by clever women, who were good Americans besides, that this is one of the subtle truths which baffle the Gods and democracies alike. Central Avenue has long ago been appropriated by the leading retail dry-goods shops, huge establishments where everything from a set of drawing-room furniture to a hair-pin can be bought under a single roof; ...
— Unleavened Bread • Robert Grant

... are sweet Jewells! He that would put his confidence in Turnops[173] And pickled Spratts—Come, yet resume your Courage, Pluck up that leaden hart and looke upon mee; Modesbargen's fledd, and what we lockt in him Too far of from their subtle keys to open, Yf we stand constant now to one another And in our ...
— A Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. II • Various

... subtle warning, Reid's scheme worked. The Secretary of Defense explicitly and publicly approved the Air Force program and rejected those of the Army and Navy. Johnson told the Army, for example, that he was pleased with the progress made in the past few years, but he saw "that much ...
— Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965 • Morris J. MacGregor Jr.

... convincing of her identity as it was audacious. Lying on his pillow were a few dead leaves of an odorous mountain fern, known only to the Sierras. They were tied together by a narrow blue ribbon, and had evidently been intended to attract his attention. As he took them in his hand, the distinguishing subtle aroma of the little sylvan hollow in the hills came to him like a memory and a revelation! He summoned the chambermaid; she knew nothing of them, or indeed of any one who had entered his room. ...
— In a Hollow of the Hills • Bret Harte

... as a destiny, my Powys. And he plays false to her. Good; I do not object. But, imagine in your own mind, my Powys—instead of passion, of rage, of tempest, she is frozen wiz a repose. Do you, hein? sink it will come out,"—Pericles eyed Merthyr with a subtle smile askew,—"I have sot so;—it will come out when she is one day in a terrible scene . . . Mon Dieu! it was a terrible scene for me when I looked on ze clout zat washed ze blood of ze terrible assassination. So goes out a voice, possibly! ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... end he took to showing himself; he stood and stared. Merely that. He was subtle enough to shift the persecution from the province of the physical to the realm of the psychological. It was like being haunted. Even when I did not see him, I began to THINK that I saw him. He deliberately ...
— The Cruise of the Jasper B. • Don Marquis

... for the subtle Oriental swallows the jam and rejects the pill; but the mere example of the sober, righteous, and godly lives of the principals and professors who are most excellent and devoted men, must have a certain moral value. Yet, as Lord Lansdowne pointed out the other day, the ...
— The Works of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition • Rudyard Kipling

... hearts full of wickedness and vanity, Jer. iv. 14. Certainly it will be much labour to get your unclean spirits cast out, that is the grosser and more palpable lusts that reign in you, but when these are gone forth, yet there is much wickedness and uncleanness in the heart, of a more subtle nature, and by long indwelling, almost incorporated and mingled with the soul, and this will not be gotten out with gentle sweeping, as was done, Luke xi. 25. That takes away only the uppermost filth ...
— The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning • Hugh Binning

... sometimes early in the morning on the Downs when nobody was about and she had them to herself, but oftener across the bridge into the other county where the atmosphere and the look of things were immediately different, softer, more subtle yet more exhilarating. She went there now with no fear of meeting Francis Sales. He had gone to Canada without another word, and his absence made him interesting for the first time. If she had not been bored in a delicate way of her own which left no mark but an expression of impassivity she ...
— THE MISSES MALLETT • E. H. YOUNG

... How little does she know of the world—how little of the subtle human heart! Yes—yes, Mrs. Lee, Mark shall go back at once. He shall not remain here a day longer to breathe his blighting breath on so sweet a flower. Jenny is too good a girl to be exposed to such ...
— Heart-Histories and Life-Pictures • T. S. Arthur

... connected with this place of which some spiritual essence still survived, for without doubt localities preserve such influences, which can be felt by the sensitive among living things, especially in favouring conditions of fear and gloom. At any rate I never experienced more subtle and yet more penetrating terrors than I did upon that night, and afterwards Ragnall confessed to me that my case was his own. Black as it was I thought that I saw apparitions, among them glaring eyes and that of the elephant Jana standing ...
— The Ivory Child • H. Rider Haggard

... a philosophy and method drawn from northern Germany, a true and subtle sympathy with the Italians, and a perpetual, just and accurate comment upon the minor nationalities of Europe, a mass of recorded travel superior by far to that of other countries, we marvelled that France in particular should ...
— Avril - Being Essays on the Poetry of the French Renaissance • H. Belloc

... I dare be sworn you have dreamt of being!"—the scholar continued with a subtle smile. "The Grand Duke's alter ego, Mayor of the Palace, Adviser to his Highness! Yes, I hit you there? I touch you there! Oh, vanity of little men, I thought so! "He broke off and listened, as sharp on one another ...
— The Long Night • Stanley Weyman

... upon all. Every one's share was different—and yet every one knew perfectly well what his share was, and strove to give a little more. Now, however, since they had come to the new country, all this was changing; it seemed as if there must be some subtle poison in the air that one breathed here—it was affecting all the young men at once. They would come in crowds and fill themselves with a fine dinner, and then sneak off. One would throw another's hat out of the window, and both would go out to get it, ...
— The Jungle • Upton Sinclair

... invisible but not far distant vales ladened with the unmistakable odor of the land—a fragrance that was at times faint enough, but at other times was almost overwhelming; from the heart of the tropics only, is such perfume distilled; few who inhale it for the first time can resist its subtle charm; its influence once yielded to, the soul is soon enslaved and the dreams that follow are ...
— In the Footprints of the Padres • Charles Warren Stoddard

... his answer for a good five minutes. He had always intended to play the game off his own bat, but he had heard and seen enough since entering Harker's little room to know that he was in company with an intellect which was keener and more subtle than his, and that it would be all to his advantage to go in with the man who had vast and deep experience. And so he made a clean breast of all he had done in the way of investigation, ...
— The Paradise Mystery • J. S. Fletcher

... success, Frank sang this subtle ditty one day for Francis Madigan. He listened to it with that puzzled expression which his children's vagaries brought to his ...
— The Madigans • Miriam Michelson

... series of advancing achievements. She has studied, and read, and thought; she has travelled, and "sipped the foam of many lives;" and a polished and many-sided culture has added its charm to a woman singularly charming by nature and possessed of the subtle gift of fascination. When very young she studied music and modern languages abroad in Florence, and in London. To music she especially devoted herself studying under Garcia and under William Shakespeare, the ...
— The Bay State Monthly, Volume 3, No. 6 • Various

... accepted the homage offered, and made many inquiries concerning the war prosecuted by Hossein's master against the enemies of the true faith in the distant region of Algiers. His queries were all answered with deep submission and the most subtle of flattery, much of which latter was no doubt a perfectly honest expression of opinion. As to the average Mohammedan of this period the Padishah was a being set apart by Heaven to fulfil ...
— Sea-Wolves of the Mediterranean • E. Hamilton Currey

... conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is in violation of the traditions of America. Work must be found for able-bodied ...
— Complete State of the Union Addresses from 1790 to the Present • Various

... though it seemed, that in some subtle and inexplicable fashion he was in danger. At any rate, he was hopelessly bewildered. He did not understand why this very beautiful lady should look at him as though they were old friends, why her eyes should appeal to him so often ...
— The Tempting of Tavernake • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... potentate in Europe. Splendid exemplar of the war-lord idea, he is really the peer of diplomatists, a ruler whose utterances are to-day weighed and discussed as are those of none other. Understanding the value of words, and a coiner of subtle phrases, an epigram from the Kaiser contrasting the destiny and rights of the "white man" and the "yellow man" would probably have isolated the British as Japan's only sympathizers in the Old World, had it been made at an ...
— East of Suez - Ceylon, India, China and Japan • Frederic Courtland Penfield

... incur a charge of indifference to the fine arts in general. Among the "crowd" which found their place in his complex personality, there was "the barbarian," and there was "the philistine," and there was, too, the humourist who took a subtle pleasure in proclaiming himself "a plain man," puzzled by subtleties, and unable to catch the drift of spirits finer than ...
— The Works of Lord Byron, Volume 2 • George Gordon Byron

... as good as any other part of the year, and no part can be too good to do good. It was not a part of my object to hurt the feelings of the Episcopalians and Catholics. If they think that there is some subtle relation between hunger and heaven, or that faith depends upon, or is strengthened by famine, or that veal, during Lent, is the enemy of virtue, or that beef breeds blasphemy, while fish feeds faith—of course, all this is ...
— The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, Volume VIII. - Interviews • Robert Green Ingersoll

... magazine editor. (That seems the proper thing to do with editors.) She wanted to know what business he had to keep that story after having led her to believe that it was his unbreakable custom to send them back. It was deception, she told the swelling Baldwin buds, base, deep-dyed, subtle deception. After baiting her on with his little, pink, printed rejection slips, he suddenly sprung ...
— The Wit and Humor of America, Volume V. (of X.) • Various

... by a hundred eyes; a control of public opinion through venal pens and a prostituted press; an ability to subsidize crowds in every vocation of life—the politician with his local importance, the lawyer with his subtle tongue, and even the authority of the judge on the bench; and a familiar use of men in places high and low, so that none, from the President to the lowest border postmaster, should decline to be its tool; all these things and more were needed, and they were found in the slave power of our Republic. ...
— American Eloquence, Volume III. (of 4) - Studies In American Political History (1897) • Various

... precious secrets, even a middle-aged "mummy duster," whose interest in the female sex has, until very recently, centered upon specimens of that sex who have been embalmed several thousand years—even such a one cannot help being gratified by the subtle flattery. ...
— Galusha the Magnificent • Joseph C. Lincoln

... unto glory. He hath made him to us to be wisdom; yea, he is called Wisdom itself. And God saith, moreover, that he "shall deal prudently." And indeed, he that shall take upon him to be the Saviour of the people, had need be wise, because their adversaries are subtle above any. Here they are to encounter the serpent, who for his subtlety outwitted our father and mother when their wisdom was at highest. But if we talk of wisdom, our Jesus is wise, wiser than Solomon, wiser ...
— The Riches of Bunyan • Jeremiah Rev. Chaplin

... But he enjoyed talking to European women of the world. New York had been overrun of late with Russian princesses and other ladies of title come over in the hope of milking the good old American cow, and when he could divert them from their grievances he found them clever, subtle and interesting. It was unlikely that this woman had a grievance of that sort or was looking for a chance to get at the generous but elusive udder. Her pearls might not be real, but her gown was superlatively expensive, her evening wrap of mauve velvet lined with ...
— Black Oxen • Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton

... into his hammock, and was in a sound sleep. I then gently pushed a shot-case under the head of his hammock, and placed the corner of it so as to receive his head; for had it split his skull I should not have cared, so exasperated was I, and so bent on revenge. Subtle and silent, I then cut his lanyard: he fell, and his head coming in contact with the edge of the shot-case, he gave a deep groan, and there he lay. I instantly retreated to my chest and blanket, where I pretended to snore, while the sentinel, who, fortunately for me, ...
— Frank Mildmay • Captain Frederick Marryat

... every virtue and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. We balance inconveniences; we give and take; we remit some rights, that we may enjoy others; and we choose rather to be happy citizens than subtle disputants. As we must give away some natural liberty, to enjoy civil advantages, so we must sacrifice some civil liberties, for the advantages to be derived from the communion and fellowship of a great empire. But, in all fair dealings, ...
— The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. II. (of 12) • Edmund Burke

... all that Laura's laconic message implied. Bernard reformed was Bernard broken by remorse: if he had shot himself— which was what Lawrence had anticipated—he would have deserved less pity. Yet Lawrence would have liked some swifter and less subtle form ...
— Nightfall • Anthony Pryde

... her to be my directress. Often when I went to her house nobody was there, and she would talk to me with freedom on all sorts of subjects. I did not fall in love with her, but she was still attractive as a woman, and difference of sex, delightful manners, subtle intellect, expressive grey eyes, and lovely black hair streaked with white, might have taught me much which I could have learned from no ordinary friend. My cousin often went with me to Mrs. A.'s, but I was never at rest ...
— More Pages from a Journal • Mark Rutherford

... where there is no possible suggestion of cultivation we instinctively read the broad outlines of meaning and feeling in the tones and inflections of the voice. May it not therefore be possible that a finer culture will reveal all the subtle shades of thought and feeling, and a more discriminating judgment be able to detect these, just as the ethnologist will reconstruct from some crude relic the history of an ...
— Expressive Voice Culture - Including the Emerson System • Jessie Eldridge Southwick

... commencement from that of another of her noblest and wisest children, the Doge Tomaso Mocenigo, who expired five years later. The reign of Foscari followed, gloomy with pestilence and war; a war in which large acquisitions of territory were made by subtle or fortunate policy in Lombardy, and disgrace, significant as irreparable, sustained in the battles on the Po at Cremona, and in the marshes of Caravaggio. In 1454, Venice, the first of the states of Christendom, humiliated herself to the Turk; in the same year was established ...
— The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to Prose, Vol. VI (of X)—Great Britain and Ireland IV • Various

... custodian of the Princess Elizabeth at Woodstock when she was suspected of connivance in Wyatt's rebellion. In espousing Elizabeth's cause, and in casting aspersions on one who was responsible for her safe custody, Foxe was but following his general plan of campaign, the not very subtle plan of representing all those of his own party to be saints and martyrs, the enemy deserving every abusive term that came to his facile pen. This simple method attained its object probably beyond the wildest dreams of its author. All along the ...
— Studies from Court and Cloister • J.M. Stone

... perhaps, be thought more subtle than the grossness of real life will easily admit. Let it, however, be remembered, that the efficacy of ignorance has been long tried, and has not produced the consequence expected. Let knowledge, therefore, take its turn; ...
— Life Of Johnson, Vol. 2 • Boswell

... not a Frenchman, nor, Paul decided, was he a German; certainly he was not an Italian nor an Austrian. A subtle something about the man's whole appearance, indeed, brought Verdayne to the conclusion that ...
— High Noon - A New Sequel to 'Three Weeks' by Elinor Glyn • Anonymous

... these subtle evils of wretched and inadequate housing which are often the most disastrous. In the summer of 1902 during an epidemic of typhoid fever in which our ward, although containing but one thirty-sixth of the population ...
— Twenty Years At Hull House • Jane Addams

... unconsciously fulfilling the will of the species, and that the offspring of the union suffered in consequence. Still, taking all these things into account, and attaching to them what importance they may be worth, one is amazed at the clearness of his vision, by his vigorous and at moments subtle perception. If he did not see life whole, what he did see he saw with his own eyes, and then told us all about it with unmistakable veracity, and for the most part simply, brilliantly. Too much importance cannot be attached to this quality of seeing things for oneself; ...
— Essays of Schopenhauer • Arthur Schopenhauer

... be successful, must appeal. It is the great critic and the great recorder; and in the face of such criticism and record abuses cannot long maintain themselves. Men will be free, first of external tyrannies, and then of that more subtle but not less dangerous tyranny which they impose upon themselves. As might have been expected, extremists have arisen who sought to find a short road to perfection, and they have met with disappointment. The dreams of the socialists have not been ...
— Holland - The History of the Netherlands • Thomas Colley Grattan

... theology. And, allowing for the variations made with comic intent, it is altogether Greek in spirit—so Greek, in fact, that I doubt whether any one who has not given his days and nights to the study of Homer and of the tragedians, and who has not thus taken in by the pores the subtle essence of Hellenic life and literature, can truly appreciate this French farce. Planche's Golden Fleece is in the same vein, but the ore is not as rich. Frere's Loves of the Triangles and some of his Anti-Jacobin writing are perhaps as good in quality, but the subjects are ...
— Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XXVI., December, 1880. • Various

... of this kind are easily made, when you are in haste, with an F. or HB. pencil: it requires some hardness of the point to insure your drawing delicately enough when the forms of the shadows are very subtle; they are sure to be so somewhere, and are generally so everywhere. The pencil is indeed a very precious instrument after you are master of the pen and brush, for the pencil, cunningly used, is both, and will draw a line with the precision of the ...
— The Elements of Drawing - In Three Letters to Beginners • John Ruskin

... far and wide, and only a little tuft of greener grass remains to its memory? As our naturalist's game was nobler and destined for more important study, so it was capable of lifelong suffering more subtle and intense. Perhaps Fournier had not fully considered, in his eagerness to prove his hypothesis, the dangers to the subjects of his experiment. Perhaps his mind was so intent upon the physical aspect of the questions that he had overlooked some of the intellectual ...
— Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 11, - No. 22, January, 1873 • Various

... stripped of every vesture it had amused me to put on them for fun. Queer enough they were. Is there a human being that isn't that—more or less secretly? But whatever their secret, it was manifest to me that it was neither subtle nor profound. They were a good, stupid, earnest couple and very much bothered. They were that—with the usual unshaded crudity of average people. There was nothing in them that the lamplight might not touch without the slightest ...
— Chance • Joseph Conrad

... increased his capital tenfold; he is not to be cheated; he knows the tricks of the trade. The monster among his treasures looks like some old hag among a score of young girls that she offers to the public. Beauty and miracles of art are alike indifferent to him; subtle and dense as he is, he has a keen eye to profits, he talks roughly to those who know less than he does; he has learned to act a part, he pretends to love his pictures, or again he lets you know the price he himself gave ...
— Cousin Pons • Honore de Balzac

... of anguish burst from me. Upon earth, in the midst of the darkest night, light never abdicates its functions altogether. It is still subtle and diffusive, but whatever little there may be, the eye still catches that little. Here there was not an atom; the total ...
— A Journey to the Interior of the Earth • Jules Verne

... scattered roses. A few moments since the roses had been less than nothing to her. What were roses, what was anything, compared to Peter? Now they crept back into their own little place in creation; their beauty and fragrance dumbly conveyed a subtle comfort to her soul, as she lovingly laid one against another, until a glowing bouquet of coppery golden hue was formed. She lifted an ewer from the old dresser, and poured water into a great silver goblet, wherein she plunged the stalks of her roses. ...
— Peter's Mother • Mrs. Henry De La Pasture

... not to be left alone with Pierre. Sometimes she half suspected Pani of being in league with the young man. So she took one and another of the admirers who suited her best, bestowing her favors very impartially, she thought, and verging on the other hand to the subtle dangers of coquetry. What was there in her smile that should seem to summon one with a ...
— A Little Girl in Old Detroit • Amanda Minnie Douglas

... was willing to bear with them, if the fact that he did so afforded Ida any pleasure. Ida Stirling was an unusually fortunate young woman, in so far, at least, as that she had only to mention any desire that it was in her father's power to gratify. He was a strenuous man, whose work was his life; subtle where that work was concerned when force, which he preferred, was not advisable, but crudely direct and simple ...
— The Gold Trail • Harold Bindloss

... fortunes, and we call them Fate. Thou saidst well, Honain. Most subtle Sadducee! The saintly blood flowed in my fathers' veins, and they did nothing; but I have an arm formed to wield a sceptre, ...
— Alroy - The Prince Of The Captivity • Benjamin Disraeli

... Ink, and don't attempt to use That Subtle Touch which Editors refuse; Better be jocund at two cents a word Than, starving, court ...
— The Rubaiyat of Omar Cayenne • Gelett Burgess

... lighted lobby, its walls paneled from floor to ceiling with great mirrors that reflect lovely women and distinguished men. Then in the theater where the rich carpet deadens every footfall and you feel rather than hear the murmur of many voices speaking softly—the subtle rustle of a crowded place—the lights—the music—oh, girls, it was wonderful, wonderful! I ...
— Lucile Triumphant • Elizabeth M. Duffield

... mischief against God and His servants? Yet I tell you that I like it not, and cannot see the end. We English are a stiff-necked folk whom you of Spain do not understand and will never break, and Henry is strong and subtle; ...
— The Lady Of Blossholme • H. Rider Haggard



Words linked to "Subtle" :   harmful, pernicious, impalpable, elusive, insidious, perceptive



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