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 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

Hers, a tribute to her A Star Is Born character, featured a delicate, fine line rose right down her spinal cord. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Halle Berry Just Unveiled the Most Enormous Tattoo Right Down Her Back," 5 Mar. 2019 The gown's delicate off-shoulder neckline was trimmed in crystals, and complemented by her bevy of Neil Lane jewels. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Cast of Crazy Rich Asians at the Oscars Is the Fashion Show We've All Been Waiting For," 24 Feb. 2019 The intimacy and vividness of her work, the delicate, fine brushstrokes, recall Delacroix, but the cheeky, unapologetic, and at times challenging attitude of her heroines evokes a model in a pinup magazine. Thomas Gebremedhin, WSJ, "Lisa Yuskavage’s Art Continues to Defy Characterization," 6 Nov. 2018 From there, a basic stencil — a skyline or the outline of a cartoon character — was applied using a silk screen and then the delicate work of airbrushing and embellishing could begin. refinery29.com, "How Brutal Cult Leader Tony Alamo Amassed A Fortune With Bedazzled Denim Jackets," 29 June 2018 That’s something the show has tried to be very delicate and respectful about. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Outlander's Sophie Skelton Talks About Brianna's Emotional Reunion with Claire and Jamie," 31 Dec. 2018 Like other financial technology firms, Square is trying to achieve a delicate balance of offering banking services without triggering bank-level regulations. Peter Rudegeair, WSJ, "A $150,000 Small Business Loan—From an App," 28 Dec. 2018 Yet, in the current delicate balance of the Supreme Court, his rigid ideology will tip the scales of justice against the kind of country America is and ought to be. Fox News, "Levin: Democrats and the judicial confirmation process," 24 Sep. 2018 And it's been striking that delicate balance for half a century. Ana Colon, Glamour, "50 Years of Ralph Lauren: The Most Iconic Moments," 7 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The delicates collection, which ranges in price from $13 to $36, comes in sizes XS to XL for bottoms and 32A to 36D for bras. Rachel Torgerson, Cosmopolitan, "J. Crew Has Adorable Lingerie Now, FYI," 28 Feb. 2018 However, be aware that plastic restricts airflow, making it a bad choice for delicates, vintage pieces, or heirlooms. Jolie Kerr, Esquire, "This Is the Right Way to Store Your Clothes," 14 Oct. 2016

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

16 Mar 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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