Definition of delicate
1 : pleasing to the senses:a : generally pleasant the climate's delicate, the air most sweet — William Shakespeareb : pleasing to the sense of taste or smell especially in a mild or subtle way a delicate aroma a robust wine will dominate delicate dishesc : marked by daintiness or charm of color, lines, or proportions a delicate floral print an ample tear trilled down her delicate cheek — William Shakespeared : marked by fineness of structure, workmanship, or texture a delicate tracery a delicate lace
4a : requiring careful handling: (1) : easily unsettled or upset a delicate balance the delicate relationships defined by the Constitution — New Yorker (2) : requiring skill or tact in a delicate position delicate negotiations a delicate operation (3) : involving matters of a deeply personal nature : sensitive this is a delicate matter. Could I possibly speak to you alone — Daphne Du Maurierb : marked by care, skill, or tact her delicate handling of a difficult situation
5 : marked by great precision or sensitivity a delicate instrument
Examples of delicate in a Sentence
He has a delicate stomach and often gets sick when traveling.
The fabric has a delicate floral print.
We hung delicate lace curtains in the windows.
The tomb was adorned with delicate carvings.
the delicate flavor of the wine
Recent Examples of delicate from the Web
The fish is always perfect—flaky without being too delicate.
MAT Administrator Andrew Chiaravallo said he and his staff had been unfairly criticized for MAT's financial situation and the issues were directly related to declines in state funding disrupting the delicate balance of its operations.
But IBM researchers have just reported a new way to keep Silicon Valley on the right side of at least this law, using a delicate material to make microchips’ basic processing elements—transistors—smaller and faster than ever before.
During a recent visit, we were treated to delicate saucisson sausage along with regionally crafted cheese, the capriole goat pairing particularly well with the house pepper jelly.
An item which sounds fancy and delicate on paper is paired with a sweet, savory flavor that gives it the familiarity of a backyard barbecue.
The straps feel delicate and take up less space on your feet.
From afar, the colorful drips and dots create a delicate, living mural, a sly comment, perhaps, on what gets perceived as lovely, and why.
The new bill is intended to walk a delicate line in its relatively modest tweaks to the measure that passed the House last month.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'delicate'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of delicate
Middle English delicat, from Latin delicatus given to self-indulgence, fastidious, subtly pleasing, not robust; akin to Latin delicere to allure
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of delicate
Definition of delicate
: something delicate washing delicates by hand
DELICATE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of delicate for English Language Learners
: easily broken or damaged
: easily injured, hurt, or made sick
: attractive and made up of small or fine parts
DELICATE Defined for Kids
Definition of delicate for Students
1 : pleasing because of fineness or mildness a delicate flavor
2 : able to sense very small differences a delicate instrument
3 : calling for skill and careful treatment a delicate operation
4 : easily damaged delicate flowers
5 : sickly 1 a delicate child
6 : requiring tact a delicate subject
Seen and Heard
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