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Noun subtlety has 2 senses


subtletyn. [OE. sotelte, sutilte, OF. sotillete, L. subtilitas. See Subtle, and cf. Subtility.].
  •  The quality or state of being subtle, or sly; cunning; craftiness; artfulness.  [1913 Webster]
    "The fox which lives by subtlety."  [1913 Webster]
  •  Nice discernment with delicacy of mental action; nicety of discrimination.  [1913 Webster]
  •  Something that is sly, crafty, or delusive.  [1913 Webster]
    "Unlearned in the world's false subtleties."  [1913 Webster]


subtlety, n. (pl. -ies)
1 something subtle.
2 a fine distinction; an instance of hairsplitting.

ME f. OF s(o)utilt{eacute} f. L subtilitas -tatis (as SUBTLE)



Italian hand, absoluteness, accuracy, acquired taste, acuteness, airiness, airy nothing, animal cunning, apparent soundness, appreciation, appreciation of differences, appreciation of excellence, appreciativeness, art, artfulness, artifice, artistic judgment, astuteness, attention to detail, attention to fact, bodilessness, cageyness, callidity, canniness, care for truth, casuistry, choiceness, circularity, circumstantiality, civilized taste, civilizedness, cleverness, complexity, complexness, complication, connoisseurship, conscientiousness, convolution, correctness, crabbedness, craft, craftiness, critical niceness, criticality, criticalness, cultivated taste, cultivation, culture, cunning, cunningness, daintiness, deceptiveness, delicacy, delicate distinction, detail, deviousness, differentia, differential, discriminating taste, discriminatingness, discrimination, discriminativeness, disingenuousness, distinction, distortion, elegance, entanglement, equivocalness, equivocation, ethereality, evasive reasoning, exactingness, exactitude, exactness, excellence, exquisiteness, faithfulness, fallaciousness, fallacy, fastidiousness, faultlessness, feel, feeling, fidelity, fine Italian hand, fine palate, fine point, fineness, finesse, finicality, finicalness, finickiness, finickingness, flawlessness, flimsiness, foxiness, fussiness, gamesmanship, good taste, grace, gracefulness, gracility, graciosity, graciousness, guile, guilefulness, hairline, immateriality, impalpability, imponderability, incorporeality, ingeniousness, insidiousness, insincerity, insolidity, insubstantiality, intangibility, intricacy, intricateness, inventiveness, involution, involvement, jesuitism, jesuitry, judiciousness, literalism, literality, literalness, low cunning, making distinctions, margin, mathematical precision, meticulousness, minuteness, misapplication, mistiness, mystification, narrow margin, nice distinction, niceness, niceness of distinction, nicety, nuance, obfuscation, obscurantism, one-upmanship, oversubtlety, palate, particle of difference, particularity, particularness, pawkiness, perfection, perplexity, perversion, philosophism, plausibility, plausibleness, point of difference, polish, preciseness, precisianism, precision, punctiliousness, punctuality, quality, ramification, rareness, rarity, rationalization, readiness, refined discrimination, refined palate, refinement, resourcefulness, right, rightness, rigidity, rigidness, rigor, rigorousness, satanic cunning, scrupulosity, scrupulousness, selectiveness, sense, sensibility, sensitivity, severity, shade of difference, sharpness, shiftiness, shrewdness, slickness, slightness, slipperiness, slyness, sneakiness, sophism, sophistical reasoning, sophistication, sophistry, special pleading, speciosity, specious reasoning, speciousness, stealth, stealthiness, strictness, subtility, subtilty, subtle distinction, subtleness, suppleness, tact, tactfulness, tanglement, taste, tastefulness, technicality, tenuity, tenuousness, textualism, the letter, thinness, treachery, trickiness, unconcreteness, unreality, unsolidity, unsubstantiality, unsubstantialness, vagueness, vicious circle, vicious reasoning, wariness, wide margin, wiles, wiliness, wit




N cunning, craft, cunningness, craftiness, subtlety, artificiality, maneuvering, temporization, circumvention, chicane, chicanery, sharp practice, knavery, jugglery, concealment, guile, doubling, duplicity, foul play, diplomacy, politics, Machiavelism, jobbery, backstairs influence, art, artifice, device, machination, plot, maneuver, stratagem, dodge, sidestep, artful dodge, wile, trick, trickery, ruse, ruse de guerre, finesse, side blow, thin end of the wedge, shift, go by, subterfuge, evasion, white lie, juggle, tour de force, tricks of the trade, tricks upon travelers, espieglerie, net, trap, Ulysses, Machiavel, sly boots, fox, reynard, Scotchman, Jew, Yankee, intriguer, intrigant, floater, Indian giver, keener, repeater, cunning, crafty, artful, skillful, subtle, feline, vulpine, cunning as a fox, cunning as a serpent, deep, deep laid, profound, designing, contriving, intriguing, strategic, diplomatic, politic, Machiavelian, timeserving, artificial, tricky, tricksy, wily, sly, slim, insidious, stealthy, underhand, subdolous, deceitful, slippery as an eel, evasive, crooked, arch, pawky, shrewd, acute, sharp, sharp as a tack, sharp as a needle, canny, astute, leery, knowing, up to snuff, too clever by half, not to be caught with chaff, tactful, diplomatic, politic, polite, cunningly, slyly, slily, on the sly, by a side wind, diamond cut diamond, a' bis ou a blanc, fin contre fin, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.


N rarity, tenuity, absence of solidity, subtility, subtilty, subtlety, sponginess, compressibility, rarefaction, expansion, dilatation, inflation, subtilization, vaporization, evaporation, diffusion, gassification, ether, rare, subtile, thin, fine, tenuous, compressible, flimsy, slight, light, cavernous, spongy, rarefied, unsubstantial, uncompact, incompressed, rarefiable.

& Sophistry

N intuition, instinct, association, hunch, gut feeling, presentiment, premonition, rule of thumb, superstition, astrology, faith (supposition), sophistry, paralogy, perversion, casuistry, jesuitry, equivocation, evasion, chicane, chicanery, quiddet, quiddity, mystification, special pleading, speciousness, nonsense, word sense, tongue sense, false reasoning, vicious reasoning, circular reasoning, petitio principii, ignoratio elenchi, post hoc ergo propter hoc, non sequitur, ignotum per ignotius, misjudgment, false teaching, sophism, solecism, paralogism, quibble, quirk, elenchus, elench, fallacy, quodlibet, subterfuge, subtlety, quillet, inconsistency, antilogy, a delusion, a mockery, and a snare, claptrap, cant, mere words, lame and impotent conclusion, meshes of sophistry, cobwebs of sophistry, flaw in an argument, weak point, bad case, overrefinement, hairsplitting, intuitive, instinctive, impulsive, independent of reason, anterior to reason, gratuitous, hazarded, unconnected, unreasonable, illogical, false, unsound, invalid, unwarranted, not following, inconsequent, inconsequential, inconsistent, absonous, absonant, unscientific, untenable, inconclusive, incorrect, fallacious, fallible, groundless, unproved, non sequitur, it does not follow, deceptive, sophistical, jesuitical, illusive, illusory, specious, hollow, plausible, ad captandum, evasive, irrelevant, weak, feeble, poor, flimsy, loose, vague, irrational, nonsensical, foolish, frivolous, pettifogging, quibbling, finespun, overrefined, at the end of one's tether, au bout de son latin, intuitively, by intuition, illogically, non constat, that goes for nothing.


N intelligence, wisdom, intelligence, capacity, comprehension, understanding, cuteness, sabe, savvy, intellect, nous, parts, sagacity, mother wit, wit, esprit, gumption, quick parts, grasp of intellect, acuteness, acumen, subtlety, penetration, perspicacy, perspicacity, discernment, due sense of, good judgment, discrimination, cunning, refinement, head, brains, headpiece, upper story, long head, eagle eye, eagle- glance, eye of a lynx, eye of a hawk, wisdom, sapience, sense, good sense, common sense, horse sense, plain sense, rationality, reason, reasonableness, judgment, solidity, depth, profundity, caliber, enlarged views, reach of thought, compass of thought, enlargement of mind, genius, inspiration, geist, fire of genius, heaven-born genius, soul, talent, prudence, vigilance, tact, foresight, sobriety, self-possession, aplomb, ballast, a bright thought, not a bad idea, Solomon-like wisdom, intelligent, quick of apprehension, keen, acute, alive, brainy, awake, bright, quick, sharp, quick witted, keen witted, clear witted, sharp-eyed, sharp sighted, sharp witted, wide- awake, canny, shrewd, astute, clear-headed, farsighted, discerning, perspicacious, penetrating, piercing, argute, quick-witted, nimble-witted, needle-witted, sharp as a needle, sharp as a tack, alive to, clever, arch, pas si bete, acute, wise, sage, sapient, sagacious, reasonable, rational, sound, in one's right mind, sensible, abnormis sapiens, judicious, strong- minded, unprejudiced, unbiased, unbigoted, unprepossessed, undazzled, unperplexed, unwarped judgment, impartial, equitable, fair, cool, cool-headed, long-headed, hardheaded, strong-headed, long- sighted, calculating, thoughtful, reflecting, solid, deep, profound, oracular, heaven-directed, heaven-born, prudent, sober, stand, solid, considerate, politic, wise in one's generation, watchful, provident, in advance of one' age, wise as a serpent, wise as Solomon, wise as Solon, wise, sensible, reasonable, judicious, well- thought-out, well-planned, well-judged, well-advised, prudent, politic, expedient, aut regem aut fatuum nasci oportet, but with the morning cool reflection came, flosculi sententiarum, les affaires font les hommes, mas vale saber que haber, mas vale ser necio que profiadol nemo solus sapit, nosce te, gnothi seauton, nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit, sapere aude, victrix fortunae sapientia.

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