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


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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 In every era of music, there has been a handful of women quietly leading the charge, embodying the power and delicacy in a space that has always been predominantly dominated by men. Natalie Maher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Women Write the Most Empowering Music—​and These Songs Prove It," 8 Mar. 2021 That distinction belongs to Coulombe's labor-intensive version of rusk, the Swedish cinnamon toast-like (and hygge-inducing) delicacy. Rick Nelson, Star Tribune, "Minnesota's best doughnut? Food & Wine magazine says it's in Lindstrom," 8 Feb. 2021 The display includes Handa’s tool chest, whose delicacy suggests the ritualistic nature of his craft — something like a tea ceremony. New York Times, "Photography in the Raw," 4 Feb. 2021 Here in America, meatballs became a staple on Italian-American immigrant tables, as people brought the delicacy with them from Italy. cleveland, "National Meatball Day perfect time to try 1 of the 174 pasta sauces we ranked," 9 Mar. 2021 Bring your favorite takeout delicacy to your home kitchen with this easy Beef and Broccoli recipe. Kate Merker, Good Housekeeping, "Beef and Broccoli," 3 Mar. 2021 The motivations of the two leaders who were key to getting the deal over the line – China’s leader Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – underscore the delicacy of the foreign policy task facing the new administration. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, "Transatlantic alliance due for a reset. But what about China?," 14 Jan. 2021 The imposing and dignified first movement nicely gave way to the contrasting delicacy of the second. Matthew J. Palm,, "At Bach fest, Mendelssohn, jazz top McCartney on the charts | Review," 28 Feb. 2021 But during the 11th century, the Normans brought rabbits back to Britain as a delicacy for the upper classes, reports Esther Addley for the Guardian. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Hares and Chickens Were Revered as Gods—Not Food—in Ancient Britain," 13 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for delicacy

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

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Statistics for delicacy

Last Updated

27 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Delicacy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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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