in·​tri·​cate ˈin-tri-kət How to pronounce intricate (audio)
: having many complexly interrelating parts or elements : complicated
intricate machinery
an intricate plot
: difficult to resolve or analyze
intricately adverb
intricateness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for intricate

complex, complicated, intricate, involved, knotty mean having confusingly interrelated parts.

complex suggests the unavoidable result of a necessary combining and does not imply a fault or failure.

a complex recipe

complicated applies to what offers great difficulty in understanding, solving, or explaining.

complicated legal procedures

intricate suggests such interlacing of parts as to make it nearly impossible to follow or grasp them separately.

an intricate web of deceit

involved implies extreme complication and often disorder.

a rambling, involved explanation

knotty suggests complication and entanglement that make solution or understanding improbable.

knotty ethical questions

Example Sentences

Filigree is an ancient technique that creates an intricate, lace-like pattern through the combination of wire swirls and shapes. Jeanne Rhodes-Moen, Step by Step Wire Jewelry, Fall 2007 Tsunami generation involves intricate interactions among earthquakes, landslides, and "sympathetic" vibrations between the quake and the ocean above it. Robert Koenig, Science, 17 Aug. 2001 However, other random processes can be quite intricate; for example, the fluctuating prices of stocks are difficult to explain because there are so many variables and combinations of variables that are influencing the prices. Lloyd Jaisingh, Statistics for the Utterly Confused, 2000 The movie has an intricate plot. an intricate machine that requires some training to use it properly
Recent Examples on the Web Specific factors like temperature, humidity and sediment directly impacted the chemistry of the resulting intricate patterns. Jeff Campagna, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Nov. 2022 Montgomery County Board of Elections spokesman Gilberto Zelaya said his office has been gearing up to start the intricate canvassing process since the primary. Karina Elwood, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2022 The show’s intricate storyline and positive reception increased the anticipation level for the new season. Okla Jones, Essence, 13 Sep. 2022 This showcases lip-smacking, intricate blending on the oldest Dewar’s available. Toby Grey, BGR, 4 Sep. 2022 It’s a very intricate, complex, challenging genre of music, which would make Circus, as a person who has devoted his life to it, more interesting and more fascinating to women. Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2022 Look at God’s creation—how intricate, how wild and bizarre. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 31 Oct. 2022 Fireplace mantels carved by hand are priced nearly at $34,000 because of the intricate details plastered on them. Chandra Fleming, Detroit Free Press, 29 Sep. 2022 The intricate details, the minor adjustments, the tangible differences and the postgame — or post-sip — analysis of it all keeps Wells coming back for more. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 3 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intricate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin intricatus, past participle of intricare to entangle, from in- + tricae trifles, complications

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of intricate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near intricate

Cite this Entry

“Intricate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



in·​tri·​cate ˈin-tri-kət How to pronounce intricate (audio)
: having many complexly interrelating parts, elements, or considerations : complicated
an intricate design
difficult to solve the intricate puzzle
intricately adverb
intricateness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on intricate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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