delicate

adjective
del·​i·​cate | \ ˈde-li-kət How to pronounce delicate (audio) \

Definition of delicate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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
2a : 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
3a : 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
4a : requiring careful handling:
(1) : easily unsettled or upset a delicate balance the delicate relationships defined by the ConstitutionNew 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

delicate

noun

Definition of delicate (Entry 2 of 2)

: something delicate usually used in plural washing delicates by hand

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Other Words from delicate

Adjective

delicately adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for delicate

Synonyms: Adjective

airy, dainty, exquisite, nuanced, refined, subtle

Antonyms: Adjective

robust, strong, sturdy

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Choose the Right Synonym for delicate

Adjective

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

Examples of delicate in a Sentence

Adjective

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The zest can deliver a concentrated punch of citrus, as well as a delicate, almost floral scent. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "Sassy, salty preserved lemons belong in your pantry. Here’s how to use them.," 15 July 2019 All three Instagram accounts display the most delicate, yet bold images of Black love, while inviting followers to engage and submit photos of their own. Kynala Phillips, Essence, "Me&Somebody: Revolutionizing Black Love One Meme At A Time," 8 July 2019 But swapping them in recipes depends on taste and time: Nutty and chewy brown takes longer to cook, and white can be quite delicate, fragrant and flavor-absorbing, taking about half as long to make. Bonnie S. Benwick, Washington Post, "Chickpeas and fresh herbs make this brown rice salad a satisfying summer star," 2 July 2019 Surely the scene has always been delicate to stage, but perhaps particularly now, with the post-#MeToo heightening of sensitivities about the potential for exploitation of actors, especially women. New York Times, "How Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon Got Intimate," 26 June 2019 The Duchess of Sussex has long been a fan of delicate, minimalist jewelry. Erin Hill, PEOPLE.com, "Meghan Markle Secretly Upgraded Her Engagement Ring — and It Almost Went Unnoticed!," 24 June 2019 Respect for classic California comes in a crab Louie salad arranged over half an avocado and, most wonderfully, a plate of delicate, fileted sand dabs — a Pacific flatfish that should be on more menus — nudged with lemon juice and capers. Bill Addison, latimes.com, "Sinatra hangout Dear John’s is going out in style," 13 June 2019 Cristiane -- who on Sunday became the oldest player to score a World Cup hat-trick in either the men's and women's version -- scored her fourth of the tournament with a delicate, but precise, header into the bottom-right corner. Aimee Lewis, CNN, "Australia beats Brazil after brilliant Women's World Cup comeback," 13 June 2019 Perfect little pasteis de nata—delicate, lemony Portugese egg tarts. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, "Venezuelan Sticky Buns > Regular Sticky Buns, Always and Forever," 13 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Thong’, this classic cotton thong style from Everlane holds the top spot in my delicates drawer because of its breathable material and classic fit. Tara Gonzalez, Glamour, "The World's Most Comfortable Thongs, According to Glamour Editors," 4 Apr. 2019 Once dry, stack your delicates together in your drawer to help them maintain their shape. Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "How to Wash a Bra the Right Way — And Mistakes You Might Be Making," 3 Nov. 2017 Idiosyncrasies were noted: Some people wash only a few delicates at a time. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "The Washing Machine of the Future," 15 Oct. 2018 To ensure that delicates, especially knits, don't stretch out of shape, always lay them flat to dry. Carolyn Forte, Good Housekeeping, "5 Major Mistakes You Make Hand-Washing Clothes," 2 Apr. 2015 While sporting lacy delicates won't stop you from getting a great workout, they're definitely not designed for that kind of physical activity. Melanie Yates, Woman's Day, "The Best Underwear For Your Workout," 11 Feb. 2015 While sporting lacy delicates won't stop you from getting a great workout, they're definitely not designed for that kind of physical activity. Melanie Yates, Woman's Day, "The Best Underwear For Your Workout," 11 Feb. 2015 The handful of delicates worn before the festivities begin—silk robes, chemises, camis, and so forth—also fall into this category. Glamour, "How to Shop for Bridal Lingerie That Feels Cool, Not Corny," 29 June 2018 While sporting lacy delicates won't stop you from getting a great workout, they're definitely not designed for that kind of physical activity. Melanie Yates, Woman's Day, "The Best Underwear For Your Workout," 11 Feb. 2015

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.

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First Known Use of delicate

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for delicate

Adjective and Noun

Middle English delicat, from Latin delicatus given to self-indulgence, fastidious, subtly pleasing, not robust; akin to Latin delicere to allure

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Statistics for delicate

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for delicate

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

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More Definitions for delicate

delicate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of delicate

: easily broken or damaged
: easily injured, hurt, or made sick
: attractive and made up of small or fine parts

delicate

adjective
del·​i·​cate | \ ˈde-li-kət How to pronounce delicate (audio) \

Kids Definition of delicate

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 sense 1 a delicate child
6 : requiring tact a delicate subject

Other Words from delicate

delicately adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on delicate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for delicate

Spanish Central: Translation of delicate

Nglish: Translation of delicate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delicate for Arabic Speakers

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