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 oils and cream will loosen the lash glue and cause the extensions to fall off faster, while mascara will add weight to the very-delicate lashes and could cause breakage. Megan Decker, refinery29.com, "Everything You Need To Know About Eyelash Extensions," 8 June 2019 Another way to resolve the tension between wanting to examine but not spoil the most delicate possible ecosystems? Nola Taylor Redd, Discover Magazine, "Mars Doesn't Need Our Microbes: How to Keep the Red Planet Pristine," 8 May 2019 The first 48 hours after waxing, your already delicate skin down there is even more vulnerable. Beth Shapouri, Glamour, "10 Things You Should Never Do After a Bikini Wax," 18 Apr. 2019 The indictment released Friday said that the agents handled the most delicate transactions with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, "12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation," 13 July 2018 Instead, his conflicting messages only added to the discombobulation that Republicans have not been able to escape on the politically delicate subject of immigration. Thomas Kaplan, Anchorage Daily News, "House rejects immigration overhaul despite Trump's late plea," 27 June 2018 Case in point: The beeswax in her velvety lipsticks and dewy blushes helps preserve a delicate ecosystem. Megan Mcintyre, Hana Hong, Marie Claire, "11 New Innovations in Sustainable Beauty from Around the Globe," 18 Apr. 2019 Parks are delicate ecosystems that can be damaged any number of ways. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "For National Parks, The End of the Shutdown Means the Hard Part Begins," 28 Jan. 2019 By 2000, China had far surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest supplier, while Mountain Pass suspended operations after contaminated water spilled into the delicate California desert ecosystem. Timothy Puko, WSJ, "Prized ‘Rare Earth’ Minerals Feel Scorch of Tariffs," 29 Nov. 2018

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

22 Jun 2019

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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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