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Why Don’t We Pronounce the B in “Subtle”?

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Why don’t we pronounce the letter b in the word subtle? The word derives ultimately from Latin subtilis, meaning “fine, delicate,” and was adopted into Middle English from Old French as sotil. The b was later added back in so that the spelling reflected the word’s original Latin roots but the pronunciation continued to lack the b sound. This is part of a complete episode.

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