Definition of subtext
: the implicit or metaphorical meaning (as of a literary text)
subtextualplay \ˌsəb-ˈteks-chə-wəl, -chəl\ adjective
Recent Examples of subtext from the Web
Characters are forever speaking about secrets and lies, games and stories, surface and subtext — some actually play Truth or Dare — in case your mind wanders from that point.
Most communication is, at heart, nonverbal; Patton is working at excavating the emotional subtext behind his writing — a daily account of his caring for his aging father.
In light of recent political events, the subtext of the piece should be pretty clear.
That’s the subtext of this café, which has been pushing brown rice and sea vegetables since the 1970s.
Horns added subtext to violin lines, then led a heroic brass, while the glockenspiel and flute gilded the orchestration.
The statements and actions of the Trump administration have been a subtext of Merkel’s visit.
State media, which hews religiously to the official script, gave the sort of account normally reserved for visiting heads of state, imposing an entirely different subtext on Xi’s boiler-plate language about US-China cooperation.
There was another subtext to the One Love Manchester Concert, too.
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Did You Know?
A literary text often has more than one meaning: the literal meaning of the words on the page, and their hidden meaning, what exists "between the lines"—the subtext. Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, for example, is about the Salem witchcraft trials of the 17th century, but its subtext is the comparison of those trials with the "witch hunts" of the 1950s, when many people were unfairly accused of being communists. Even a social conversation between a man and a woman may have a subtext, but you may have to listen very closely to figure out what it is. Don't confuse subtext with subplot, a less important plot that moves along in parallel with the main plot.
First Known Use of subtext
Seen and Heard
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