del·​i·​ca·​cy | \ ˈde-li-kə-sē How to pronounce delicacy (audio) \
plural delicacies

Definition of delicacy

1 : something pleasing to eat that is considered rare or luxurious considered caviar a delicacy
2a : the quality or state of being dainty (see dainty entry 2 sense 2) : fineness lace of great delicacy the delicacy of a spider web
b : frailty sense 1 the delicacy of his health
3 : fineness or subtle expressiveness of touch (as in painting or music)
4a : refined sensibility in feeling or conduct handled the difficult situation with delicacy
b : the quality or state of being squeamish Hunger knows no delicacy.
5 : the quality or state of requiring delicate (see delicate entry 1 sense 4b) handling the delicacy of the tense negotiations
6a : precise and refined perception and discrimination the delicacy of his taste in art
b : extreme sensitivity : precision an electronic instrument of great delicacy

7 obsolete

a : the quality or state of being luxurious

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Synonyms for delicacy


bit, cate [archaic], dainty, delectable, goody (or goodie), kickshaw, tidbit (also titbit), treat, viand

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Examples of delicacy in a Sentence

The restaurant serves delicious sausages and other regional delicacies. the delicacy of the glassware The curtains were made from fine lace of great delicacy. a musician known for the delicacy of her compositions the delicacy of the young boy's features the delicacy of the perfume the delicacy of the wine's flavor Because of the delicacy of the situation, we needed to speak privately.
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Recent Examples on the Web

All of these and other psychological burdens are explored by Hernandez with delicacy, agility and not the slightest self-indulgence. Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Sleepwalkers' ('Los Sonámbulos'): Film Review | TIFF 2019," 8 Sep. 2019 Baklava remains one of the world's most beloved delicacies, with the 30-year-old (probably) already making umpteen of them in his lovely new kitchen, or at least getting a few tips from the Trabzonspor chefs on how to craft these sweet delights., "Great British Bake Off: 5 Footballers Who Would Without Doubt 100% Win the Competition," 4 Sep. 2019 Tens of thousands of revelers descended on Oakland’s Chinatown Saturday to watch lion dancers, sample delicacies, whack table tennis balls and celebrate the 200th day of the Year of the Pig. Steve Rubenstein,, "Tens of thousands jam downtown Oakland for Chinatown festival," 24 Aug. 2019 Building rocket engines with the power to launch the Saturn V, and rocket engines with the delicacy to put the lunar module gently down on the moon — that was hard. Kevin Spear,, "Apollo 11 and race to the moon helped create the world we live in today, technologically and culturally, author says," 14 July 2019 Guests nibbled on an assortment of delicacies, including pea burgers with goat cheese and lobster tacos, and sipped rhubarb spritzers, wine and Champagne. Alix Strauss, New York Times, "For a ‘Saturday Night Live’ Writer, a Permanent Musical Guest," 28 June 2019 But rising sea levels, warming waters and more intense storms could conspire to ensure the bay remains a graveyard for oysters despite costly efforts to resurrect it and put the delicacies back on restaurant tables. Kevin Spear,, "Florida’s oysters in Apalachicola, Cedar Key face climate threats to survival | Special Report," 15 Aug. 2019 High up in the rainforests of the Philippines’ Mindanao Island, biologist Analyn Cabras spends her days handling tiny, iridescent insects with the delicacy of defusing a bomb. Jason Bittel, National Geographic, "Dazzling new mimic beetles found, may already be under threat," 1 Aug. 2019 There’s a lot going on in Tarantino’s latest film, including an exploration of the delicacy of a moment in time and how easily an era can be swept away. Keith Phipps, The Verge, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a bittersweet tribute to a bygone era," 26 July 2019

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

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First Known Use of delicacy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 7a

History and Etymology for delicacy

see delicate entry 1

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Statistics for delicacy

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for delicacy

The first known use of delicacy was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for delicacy



English Language Learners Definition of delicacy

: a food that people like to eat because it is special or rare
: the quality of being easily broken or damaged
: the quality of being easily injured, hurt, or made sick


del·​i·​ca·​cy | \ ˈde-li-kə-sē How to pronounce delicacy (audio) \
plural delicacies

Kids Definition of delicacy

1 : something pleasing to eat that is rare or a luxury
2 : fineness of structure She wore lace of great delicacy.
3 : weakness of body : frailty
4 : a need for careful treatment This is a situation of great delicacy.
5 : consideration for the feelings of others She had the delicacy to ignore my blunder.

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More from Merriam-Webster on delicacy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for delicacy

Spanish Central: Translation of delicacy

Nglish: Translation of delicacy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delicacy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on delicacy

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


readily or continually undergoing change

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