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adjective del·i·cate \ˈde-li-kət\

Simple Definition of delicate

  • : easily broken or damaged

  • : easily injured, hurt, or made sick

  • : attractive and made up of small or fine parts

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of delicate

  1. 1 :  pleasing to the senses: a :  generally pleasant <the climate's delicate, the air most sweet — Shakespeare> b :  pleasing to the sense of taste or smell especially in a mild or subtle way <a delicate aroma> <a robust wine will dominate delicate dishes> c :  marked by daintiness or charm of color, lines, or proportions <a delicate floral print> <an ample tear trilled down her delicate cheek — Shakespeare> d :  marked by fineness of structure, workmanship, or texture <a delicate tracery> <a delicate lace>

  2. 2 a :  marked by keen sensitivity or fine discrimination <delicate insights> <a more delicate syntactic analysis — R. H. Robins> b :  fastidious, squeamish <a person of delicate tastes>

  3. 3 a :  not robust in health or constitution :  weak, sickly <had been considered a delicate child> b :  easily torn or damaged :  fragile <the delicate chain of life>

  4. 4 a :  requiring careful handling: (1) :  easily unsettled or upset <a delicate balance> <the delicate relationships defined by the Constitution — New Yorker> (2) :  requiring skill or tact <in a delicate position> <delicate negotiations> <a delicate operation> (3) :  involving matters of a deeply personal nature :  sensitive <this is a delicate matter. Could I possibly speak to you alone — Daphne Du Maurier> b :  marked by care, skill, or tact <delicate handling of a difficult situation>

  5. 5 :  marked by great precision or sensitivity <a delicate instrument>



Examples of delicate in a sentence

  1. He has a delicate stomach and often gets sick when traveling.

  2. The fabric has a delicate floral print.

  3. We hung delicate lace curtains in the windows.

  4. The tomb was adorned with delicate carvings.

  5. the delicate flavor of the wine

Origin and Etymology of delicate

Middle English delicat, from Latin delicatus given to self-indulgence, fastidious, subtly pleasing, not robust; akin to Latin delicere to allure

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of delicate

choice, option, alternative, preference, selection, election mean the act or opportunity of choosing or the thing chosen. choice suggests the opportunity or privilege of choosing freely <freedom of choice>. option implies a power to choose that is specifically granted or guaranteed <the option of paying now or later>. alternative implies a need to choose one and reject another possibility <equally attractive alternatives>. preference suggests a choice guided by one's judgment or predilections <a preference for cool weather>. selection implies a range of choice <a varied selection of furniture>. election implies an end or purpose which requires exercise of judgment <doing a tax return forces certain elections on you>.

choice, exquisite, elegant, rare, delicate, dainty mean having qualities that appeal to a cultivated taste. choice stresses preeminence in quality or kind <choice fabric>. exquisite implies a perfection in workmanship or design that appeals only to very sensitive taste <an exquisite gold bracelet>. elegant applies to what is rich and luxurious but restrained by good taste <a sumptuous but elegant dining room>. rare suggests an uncommon excellence <rare beauty>. delicate implies exquisiteness, subtlety, and fragility <delicate craftsmanship>. dainty sometimes carries an additional suggestion of smallness and of appeal to the eye or palate <dainty sandwiches>.



noun del·i·cate

Definition of delicate

  1. :  something delicate

15th Century

First Known Use of delicate

15th century

DELICATE Defined for Kids


adjective del·i·cate \ˈde-li-kət\

Definition of delicate for Students

  1. 1 :  pleasing because of fineness or mildness <a delicate flavor>

  2. 2 :  able to sense very small differences <a delicate instrument>

  3. 3 :  calling for skill and careful treatment <a delicate operation>

  4. 4 :  easily damaged <delicate flowers>

  5. 5 :  sickly 1 <a delicate child>

  6. 6 :  requiring tact <a delicate subject>



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