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

Synonyms for delicacy


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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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Their delicacy improved with each meal — less greasy, more evenly fried and precisely seasoned. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2021 Never famous for his delicacy, Sarkozy seems emboldened. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 12 Aug. 2021 For all his delicacy of touch, Mr. Rovelli is a man, and a scientist, of large ambition. John Banville, WSJ, 28 May 2021 His delicacy makes his last years a negative space of memory, documented only by his refusal to describe what was happening. Sophie Pinkham, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 This fried, crispy golden globe artichoke, which makes a crunchy sound with each bite, is a delicacy of Rome's Jewish ghetto. Silvia Marchetti, CNN, 26 Apr. 2022 This is partly a credit to PostClassical’s extreme delicacy in its handling of Simon’s arrangements. Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2022 Food grew scarce; a loaf of bread was a rare delicacy. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2022 Italian truffles, known for a robust earthy and slightly garlicky taste, are a delicacy, and guests of the Casa di Langa in Piedmont and the Castello di Casole in Tuscany can not only hunt for their own but also feast on their finds. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Delicacy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for delicacy


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on delicacy

Nglish: Translation of delicacy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delicacy for Arabic Speakers


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