1

dainty

noun dain·ty \ ˈdān-tē \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of dainty

plural dainties
1 a : something delicious to the taste
  • a London dainty—a pyramid of jelly
  • —Virginia Woolf
b : something choice or pleasing
2 obsolete : fastidiousness

Examples of dainty in a Sentence

  1. the widow plied her suitor with dainties and endless glasses of sherry

Origin and Etymology of dainty

Middle English deinte high esteem, delight, from Anglo-French deinté, from Latin dignitat-, dignitas dignity, worth

dainty Synonyms

Synonyms
bit, cate [archaic], delicacy, delectable, goody (or goodie), kickshaw, tidbit (also titbit), treat, viand
Related Words
morsel; candy, dessert, junket, sweet, sweetmeat

2

dainty

adjective

Definition of dainty

daintier; daintiest
1 a : tasting good : tasty
  • dainty morsels
b : attractively prepared and served
  • dainty sandwiches on silver trays
2 : marked by delicate or diminutive beauty, form, or grace
  • dainty teacups
  • took a dainty sip
3 obsolete : chary, reluctant
  • … let us not be dainty of leave-taking …
  • —Shakespeare
4 a : marked by fastidious discrimination or finicky taste
b : showing avoidance of anything rough
  • gentry too dainty to risk blisters on their hands
  • —G. W. Johnson

daintily

play \ˈdān-tə-lē\ adverb

daintiness

play \ˈdān-tē-nəs\ noun

Examples of dainty in a Sentence

  1. Her hair was decorated with dainty pink flowers.

  2. the girl's dainty little hands

  3. The dancers' dainty steps were followed by a series of leaps.

  4. She took a dainty sip of tea from her teacup.

  5. They served dainty sandwiches on silver trays.

  6. The food was served in dainty portions.

Recent Examples of dainty from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dainty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of dainty

Synonym Discussion of dainty

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

DAINTY Defined for English Language Learners

dainty

adjective

Definition of dainty for English Language Learners

  • : small and pretty

  • : done with small and careful movements

  • of food : attractive and served in small amounts


DAINTY Defined for Kids

1

dainty

noun dain·ty \ ˈdān-tē \

Definition of dainty for Students

plural dainties
: a delicious food : delicacy

2

dainty

adjective

Definition of dainty for Students

daintier; daintiest
1 : tasting good
2 : pretty in a delicate way
  • dainty flowers
3 : having or showing delicate or finicky taste
  • He is a dainty eater.

daintily

\ˈdān-tə-lē\ adverb


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up dainty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

food, provisions, or a tasty dish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!