For example, two techniques might appear very similar to a casual viewer - maybe because their names sound similar - but if one understands their detail, they are very different.

I'm sure there is a word to describe the differences, nuances, intricacies that only an expert might know... but I can't remember it.

Any ideas?

  • 2
    Minutiae - which the expert might think are important, but laymen are either unaware of them, or dismiss them as "unimportant details". Aug 7, 2015 at 12:55
  • 1
    Minutiae suggests that the differences are small or insignificant. But the word I am looking for is the opposite. It describes the differences that are very important, but not visible to the untrained eye.
    – Ian
    Aug 7, 2015 at 13:21
  • This suggestion would only apply where the differences result from slight/hidden flaws/imperfections in one of the objects being examined, but expert eyes are trained to catch catches.
    – Papa Poule
    Aug 7, 2015 at 14:19

3 Answers 3


Perhaps you can use subtleties, fine points or refinements


I believe the expression is that such things are invisible to the untrained eye.

To the untrained eye

  • to someone without the skill or knowledge to judge what they see: To the untrained eye, most fake diamonds look real.

Cambridge Dictionary

  • 1
    They're looking for the opposite of that. Aug 7, 2015 at 12:47
  • 1
    @PixelSnader - You're wrong, I'm afraid. Have a read through OP's question again.
    – Charon
    Aug 7, 2015 at 12:51
  • I don't mean in the sense of trained vs untrained. I mean in the sense of that description being negative (a NON expert would NOT notice) which means there could be a better way. (although I've been breaking my head on it with no result). Sorry for the confusion. Aug 7, 2015 at 12:55
  • 1
    @PixelSnader - Read my answer again: I wrote invisible to the untrained eye: i.e. a non-expert would NOT notice.
    – Charon
    Aug 7, 2015 at 12:56
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    They're not asking for a word that means "good", @PixelSnader. This is a very good answer.
    – TimR
    Aug 7, 2015 at 13:02

@fumble fingers, why didn't you post that as an answer? It is perfect. my 2nd choice would have been to refer to these as subtleties, but @SamuelVimes (what a wonderful literary reference) already claimed this answer. This leaves a couple of alternates:

Aspect - A particular part or feature of something, A specific way in which something can be considered, A particular appearance or quality.

Facet - A particular aspect or feature of something

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