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
That is one half of a delicate but vital constitutional arrangement designed to ensure that neither the FBI director nor the president can amass completely untrammeled power over law enforcement in a way that would invite political abuse.
Delicate morsels of hamachi are crusted in nori powder and served raw next to a painterly schmear of avocado.
The movements were more scene setting than story telling, with wafting, zephyr-like patterns from piano, the themes eliding wind to string voices in a delicate and tricky texture.
CNN has walked a delicate tightrope in its efforts to report with fairness and accuracy on a White House that values neither.
Among them is a delicate small sculpture from Jon McIntosh, a long-time resident of Key West, takes us back to the pre-digital age, when communication involved words on paper.
The gown was covered in elaborate beading, jewels and a delicate floral pattern.
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.
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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