delicacy

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

Definition of delicacy

1 obsolete

a : the quality or state of being luxurious
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for delicacy

Synonyms

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

The Reporter Decades ago, as a small-town newspaper reporter working on the Friday after Thanksgiving, my boss (a guy old enough to be my father) brought in a platter of this World War II era delicacy: turkey meat on Wonder Bread with butter. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "4 Great Turkey Sandwiches For All Those Thanksgiving Leftovers," 23 Nov. 2018 Only knuckleheads—and the obstinately unenlightened—write off Buffalo, N.Y., as nothing more than a winter icebox and the birthplace of a certain sports-bar delicacy. Jennifer Fernandez, WSJ, "Escape to Buffalo: A Skeptic’s Guide to a Great Weekend Getaway," 6 Sep. 2018 When cooked properly, young bracken fronds, called fiddleheads, are a delicacy in many countries. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Ötzi the Iceman’s last meal shows how Copper Age people ate on the run," 13 July 2018 And yet, for all its enormity, the orchestra Wednesday also proved an ensemble capable of great delicacy. Zachary Lewis, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Orchestra, guests conclude 'Ecstasy' series with stunning 'Divine' program (review)," 30 Apr. 2018 Lamb Weston, based in Eagle, Idaho, is the country’s biggest manufacturer of those potato delicacies and wants better fast food. Rachel Abrams, The Seattle Times, "Out of the fryer and into the Uber car: Idaho-based Lamb Weston trying to deliver crispy fries," 3 July 2018 The delicacy of these narratives may have clashed with the gritty realism of the 1970s and the muscular posh of the 1980s, but that was irrelevant to Redford. Marley Marius, Vogue, "An Ode to Robert Redford, on What May Be His Retirement From Acting," 25 Sep. 2018 Perhaps the best part is that parents will have a great time too, reliving childhood dreams at the Pinball Museum or sampling delicacies at the iconic Pike Place Market. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The best things to do with kids in 13 U.S. cities," 20 Nov. 2018 And the reunification of Germany was also a spectacular event, both of which had to be handled with the utmost skill, delicacy, firmness and knowledge. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Why Brian Mulroney, Former Canadian Prime Minister, Will Speak at George H.W. Bush's Funeral," 4 Dec. 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.

See More

First Known Use of delicacy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for delicacy

see delicate entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about delicacy

Statistics for delicacy

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for delicacy

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for delicacy

delicacy

noun

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

delicacy

noun
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!