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delicacy

[del-i-kuh-see] /ˈdɛl ɪ kə si/
noun, plural delicacies.
1.
fineness of texture, quality, etc.; softness; daintiness:
the delicacy of lace.
2.
something delightful or pleasing, especially a choice food considered with regard to its rarity, costliness, or the like:
Caviar is a great delicacy.
3.
the quality of being easily broken or damaged; fragility.
4.
the quality of requiring or involving great care or tact:
negotiations of great delicacy.
5.
extreme sensitivity; precision of action or operation; minute accuracy:
the delicacy of a skillful surgeon's touch; a watch mechanism of unusual delicacy.
6.
fineness of perception or feeling; sensitiveness:
the delicacy of the pianist's playing.
7.
fineness of feeling with regard to what is fitting, proper, etc.:
Delicacy would not permit her to be rude.
8.
sensitivity with regard to the feelings of others:
She criticized him with such delicacy that he was not offended.
9.
bodily weakness; liability to sickness; frailty.
10.
Linguistics. (especially in systemic linguistics) the degree of minuteness pursued at a given stage of analysis in specifying distinctions in linguistic description.
11.
Obsolete. sensuous indulgence; luxury.
Origin of delicacy
1325-1375
1325-75; Middle English delicasie. See delicate, -cy
Related forms
hyperdelicacy, noun
Synonyms
5. sensitivity, discrimination; prudence, consideration, circumspection.
Antonyms
1, 6. coarseness.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for delicacies
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The laity (mostly women) arrive bearing wicker trays on which are vessels containing rice and delicacies.

  • Neither would you approve of the delicacies, as they are thought, of Athenian confectionary?

    The Republic Plato
  • Out leaped rats as big as cats, snakes, and lizards, which had fattened on the delicacies with which the god had daily been fed.

    The Story of Norway Hjalmar H. Boyesen
  • Where the Colonel obtained all these delicacies I can not imagine.

    The Citizen-Soldier John Beatty
  • Then the tenor does dare to partake of a few, of what are technically called "the delicacies of the season."

    Physiology of The Opera John H. Swaby (AKA "Scrici")
  • The delicacies of the best of us, moreover, depart at critical junctures.

    The Blue Wall Richard Washburn Child
British Dictionary definitions for delicacies

delicacy

/ˈdɛlɪkəsɪ/
noun (pl) -cies
1.
fine or subtle quality, character, construction, etc: delicacy of craftsmanship
2.
fragile, soft, or graceful beauty
3.
something that is considered choice to eat, such as caviar
4.
fragile construction or constitution; frailty
5.
refinement of feeling, manner, or appreciation: the delicacy of the orchestra's playing
6.
fussy or squeamish refinement, esp in matters of taste, propriety, etc
7.
need for tactful or sensitive handling
8.
accuracy or sensitivity of response or operation, as of an instrument
9.
(in systemic grammar) the level of detail at which a linguistic description is made; the degree of fine distinction in a linguistic description
10.
(obsolete) gratification, luxury, or voluptuousness
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for delicacies
n.

"things dainty and gratifying to the palate," mid-15c., from plural of delicacy.

delicacy

n.

late 14c., "delightfulness; fastidiousness; quality of being addicted to sensuous pleasure," from delicate + -cy. Meaning "fineness, softness, tender loveliness" is from 1580s; that of "weakness of constitution" is from 1630s. Meaning "fine food, a dainty viand" is from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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