Have you ever had to read between the lines to figure out what someone's really saying, or what a book is truly about? Then you've searched for the subtext, the meaning hidden beneath the surface.
The unstated meaning in something you say, or in a work of art, is subtext. Some readers believe the subtext of Where the Wild Things Are is the lack of understanding between parents and their children. Subtext is almost always open to interpretation. So while you think a zombie movie's subtext is 20th-century consumerism, your sister believes the subtext is really Americans' fear of communism. In conversation, you can read the subtext using cues like body language and facial expressions.