1

delicate

play
adjective del·i·cate \ ˈde-li-kət \

Definition of delicate

1 :pleasing to the senses:
a :generally pleasant
  • the climate's delicate, the air most sweet
  • —William Shakespeare
b :pleasing to the sense of taste or smell especially in a mild or subtle way
  • a delicate aroma
  • a robust wine will dominate delicate dishes
c :marked by daintiness or charm of color, lines, or proportions
  • a delicate floral print
  • an ample tear trilled down her delicate cheek
  • —William Shakespeare
d :marked by fineness of structure, workmanship, or texture
  • a delicate tracery
  • a delicate lace
2 a :marked by keen sensitivity or fine discrimination
  • delicate insights
  • a more delicate syntactic analysis
  • —R. H. Robins
b :fastidious, squeamish
  • a person of delicate tastes
3 a :not robust in health or constitution :weak, sickly
  • had been considered a delicate child
b :easily torn or damaged :fragile
  • delicate wine glasses
  • a delicate flower
  • the delicate chain of life
4 a :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 Maurier
b :marked by care, skill, or tact
  • her delicate handling of a difficult situation
5 :marked by great precision or sensitivity
  • a delicate instrument

delicately

adverb

Examples of delicate in a Sentence

  1. He has a delicate stomach and often gets sick when traveling.

  2. The fabric has a delicate floral print.

  3. We hung delicate lace curtains in the windows.

  4. The tomb was adorned with delicate carvings.

  5. the delicate flavor of the wine

Recent Examples of delicate from the Web

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

Synonym Discussion of delicate

choice, exquisite, elegant, rare, delicate, dainty mean having qualities that appeal to a cultivated taste. choice stresses preeminence in quality or kind.
    • choice fabric
exquisite implies a perfection in workmanship or design that appeals only to very sensitive taste.
    • an exquisite gold bracelet
elegant applies to what is rich and luxurious but restrained by good taste.
    • a sumptuous but elegant dining room
rare suggests an uncommon excellence.
    • rare beauty
delicate implies exquisiteness, subtlety, and fragility.
    • delicate craftsmanship
dainty sometimes carries an additional suggestion of smallness and of appeal to the eye or palate.
    • dainty sandwiches

2

delicate

noun

Definition of delicate

:something delicate
  • washing delicates by hand

Recent Examples of delicate from the Web

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


DELICATE Defined for English Language Learners

delicate

play
adjective

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

delicate

play
adjective del·i·cate \ ˈde-li-kət \

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

delicately

adverb


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