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.

Definitions of subtext
  1. noun
    a meaning that is not expressly stated but can be inferred
    synonyms: implication, import, significance
    see moresee less
    type of:
    meaning, substance
    the idea that is intended
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week