in·​del·​i·​cate (ˌ)in-ˈde-li-kət How to pronounce indelicate (audio)
: not delicate:
: lacking in or offending against propriety : improper
: verging on the indecent : coarse
: marked by a lack of feeling for the sensibilities of others : tactless
indelicately adverb
indelicateness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for indelicate

indecorous, improper, unseemly, unbecoming, indelicate mean not conforming to what is accepted as right, fitting, or in good taste.

indecorous suggests a violation of accepted standards of good manners.

indecorous behavior

improper applies to a broader range of transgressions of rules not only of social behavior but of ethical practice or logical procedure or prescribed method.

improper use of campaign contributions

unseemly adds a suggestion of special inappropriateness to a situation or an offensiveness to good taste.

remarried with unseemly haste

unbecoming suggests behavior or language that does not suit one's character or status.

conduct unbecoming to an officer

indelicate implies a lack of modesty or of tact or of refined perception of feeling.

indelicate expressions for bodily functions

Examples of indelicate in a Sentence

Many consider it indelicate to talk about such things in mixed company. the company considered his indelicate handling of such a personal matter to be unprofessional
Recent Examples on the Web Fisher, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $3 billion, is the quintessential member of the Lucky Sperm Club, not to be indelicate. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 Apr. 2024 All this may well be intended as tongue-in-cheek by the script, but Lynch’s indelicate handling arrives at something more subjugated by heavy-breathing clichés than ironically playful towards them. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 26 Oct. 2023 If that’s indelicate, sorry. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Aug. 2022 Sorry to sound indelicate, but... Emma Specter, Vogue, 14 Oct. 2021 Unless, that is, your home is in Australia or New Zealand, where root is an indelicate slang word. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Feb. 2023 Since the 1960s, he’s made rude, indelicate paintings that have agitated and mostly torched any idea of good taste and taken Cubism to unhinged extremes. New York Times, 13 July 2021 In many species, males have evolved structures that give them an edge in their indelicate liaisons with females. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 3 May 2012 And oversteer never feels more than an indelicate throttle-prod away, especially on damp roads and with modest tires. Tim Pitt, Robb Report, 31 May 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'indelicate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1742, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of indelicate was in 1742

Dictionary Entries Near indelicate

Cite this Entry

“Indelicate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


in·​del·​i·​cate (ˈ)in-ˈdel-i-kət How to pronounce indelicate (audio)
: having or showing bad manners or taste : immodest, coarse
indelicately adverb
indelicateness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on indelicate

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