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I am watching US Open these days on its website. There are advertisements by a company called "esurance", where a man showed to a woman a huge check and started to introduce "esurance", and then the woman replied "Subtle!", if I am right about what I heard.

I can understand some usage of subtle as part of a sentence. But I was wondering what "Subtle!" means as a reply generally?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

In English, single-word replies often denote sarcasm. A common example you might often see in movies and TV is: if someone says a lame joke and someone else replies in an unenthusiastic tone of voice, "Hilarious," it implies that the person thinks that the joke was not funny at all.

In the case of your example, the lady was probably commenting on how unsubtle the man's advertising of Esurance was (modern commercials often enjoy poking fun at themselves in that meta way).

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There is nothing about the single word that implies sarcasm. "Hilarious" said on its own could be sincere or sarcastic - the only way you could tell would be through tone of voice, body language, context. –  slim Dec 13 '11 at 11:05
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maybe short for: "that is subtle"

it maybe being used in the same way that someone says: "clever!"

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