del·​i·​ca·​cy | \ˈde-li-kə-sē \
plural delicacies

Definition of delicacy 

1 obsolete

a : the quality or state of being luxurious

b : indulgence

2 : something pleasing to eat that is considered rare or luxurious considered caviar a delicacy

3a : 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

4 : fineness or subtle expressiveness of touch (as in painting or music)

5a : precise and refined perception and discrimination the delicacy of his taste in art

b : extreme sensitivity : precision an electronic instrument of great delicacy

6a : refined sensibility in feeling or conduct handled the difficult situation with delicacy

b : the quality or state of being squeamish Hunger knows no delicacy.

7 : the quality or state of requiring delicate (see delicate entry 1 sense 4b) handling the delicacy of the tense negotiations

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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

State wildlife officials have even opened publicity campaigns to portray the nutria as a delicacy to get people to eat the animal’s lean white meat. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, "Eradication of invasive rodent off to a slow start in California," 12 May 2018 The picture features a meat-and-rice dish popular across the Middle East, Maqluba, which is described as a Gulenist delicacy in the court documents. David Gauthier-villars, WSJ, "U.S. Pastor Held in Turkey Denies Links to Terrorists," 16 Apr. 2018 The 156-passenger AmaKristina, which launched in 2017, cruises the Rhine region and offers local delicacies in its restaurants, including The Chef's Table, where food is prepared right before you. Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Cruise Lines in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 For a quick gourmet bite, head to the Marche de la Condamine, a food market which serves up regional delicacies all year long. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Gilded Halls and Gorgeous Soufflés: A Guide to Living Large in Monaco," 12 Sep. 2018 In all these instances, the material in question is handled with sensitivity and delicacy befitting films unabashed about their intent to speak directly to youth audiences. Charles Bramesco, Vox, "Eighth Grade’s R rating deters actual 8th graders from seeing it. What a shame.," 18 July 2018 Porcelain Mania Meissen figurines were sought-after for centuries for their delicacy, inventive design, and craftsmanship, and Rockefeller collected dozens. Fortune, "The 10 Biggest Surprises From the $828 Million Rockefeller Auction," 12 May 2018 The movie’s climax scratches at something close to melancholic grandeur, featuring a visual effect that’s Biblical in both its force and its delicacy. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Avengers: Infinity War Checks All the Boxes. That's Exactly What's Wrong With It," 24 Apr. 2018 Nearby, another full-service Asian grocer, New Golden Sparkling Supermarket, also bustled as customers shopped for hard-to-find delicacies such as jellyfish or the fragrant durian fruit. Kyle Arnold,, "Chinese shopping district expands to Orlando's west side," 16 Feb. 2018

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 1a

History and Etymology for delicacy

see delicate entry 1

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Statistics for delicacy

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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


del·​i·​ca·​cy | \ˈde-li-kə-sē \
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

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living or existing for a long time

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