Etymology
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subtlety (n.)

c. 1300, sotilte, "skill, ingenuity," from Old French sotilte "skillfulness, cunning" (Modern French subtilité), from Latin subtilitatem (nominative subtilitas) "fineness; simplicity, slenderness," noun of quality from subtilis "fine, thin, delicate" (see subtle). From late 14c. as "cleverness, shrewdness; trickery, guile, craftiness," also "thinness, slenderness, smallness; rarity." The -b- begins to appear late 14c. in English, in imitation of Latin.

updated on December 21, 2013

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Definitions of subtlety from WordNet

subtlety (n.)
a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude;
Synonyms: nuance / nicety / shade / refinement
subtlety (n.)
the quality of being difficult to detect or analyze;
you had to admire the subtlety of the distinctions he drew
Synonyms: niceness
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.