[del-i-kit] /ˈdɛl ɪ kɪt/
fine in texture, quality, construction, etc.:
"a delicate lace collar."
fragile; easily damaged; frail:
"delicate porcelain; a delicate child."
so fine as to be scarcely perceptible; subtle:
"a delicate flavor."
soft or faint, as color:
"a delicate shade of pink."
fine or precise in action or execution; capable of responding to the slightest influence:
"a delicate instrument."
requiring great care, caution, or tact:
"a delicate international situation."
distinguishing subtle differences:
"a delicate eye; a delicate sense of smell."
exquisite or refined in perception or feeling; sensitive.
regardful of what is becoming, proper, etc.:
"a delicate sense of propriety."
mindful of or sensitive to the feelings of others:
"a delicate refusal."
dainty or choice, as food:
"delicate tidbits."
primly fastidious; squeamish:
"not a movie for the delicate viewer."
Obsolete. sensuous; voluptuous.
Archaic. a choice food; delicacy.
Obsolete. a source of pleasure; luxury.
1325–75; Middle English delicat < Latin dēlicātus delightful, dainty; akin to delicious
Related forms
delicately, adverb
delicateness, noun
hyperdelicate, adjective
hyperdelicately, adverb
hyperdelicateness, noun
nondelicate, adjective
nondelicately, adverb
nondelicateness, noun
quasi-delicate, adjective
quasi-delicately, adverb
superdelicate, adjective
superdelicately, adverb
superdelicateness, noun
1. Delicate, dainty, exquisite imply beauty such as belongs to rich surroundings or which needs careful treatment. Delicate used of an object, suggests fragility, small size, and often very fine workmanship: a delicate piece of carving. Dainty in concrete references, suggests a smallness, gracefulness, and beauty that forbid rough handling: a dainty handkerchief; of persons, it refers to fastidious sensibilities: dainty in eating habits. Exquisite suggests an outstanding beauty and elegance, or a discriminating sensitivity and ability to perceive fine distinctions: an exquisite sense of humor. 2. tender, slight, weak. 5. exact, accurate. 6. critical, precarious. 7. discriminating, careful.
1, 2. coarse. 3. hard, crude.
Example Sentences for delicate
Everything about her is delicate: her smile, her gentle manner, and her soft voice.
It is a delicate balancing act.
Its tail fin with tiny streaks of red was curled up near its eye like the delicate fan of a Geisha.
Thus begins a complex and delicate dance between predator and prey.
The green spiny cactus contrasts with the exotic deep reds and oranges of the delicate bougainvillea.
Deciding who does what has been a delicate process of building confidence .
Its taste is delicate yet satisfying.
It's made of tender, young shrimp, cream and delicate seasonings.
Their spindly, delicate roots seem just plucked from the earth.
She wore a black pencil skirt, a delicate cream blouse and strappy high heels.
British Dictionary definitions for delicate
delicate (ˈdɛlɪkɪt)
1.  exquisite, fine, or subtle in quality, character, construction, etc
2.  having a soft or fragile beauty
3.  (of colour, tone, taste, etc) pleasantly subtle, soft, or faint
4.  easily damaged or injured; lacking robustness, esp in health; fragile
5.  precise, skilled, or sensitive in action or operation: a delicate mechanism
6.  requiring tact and diplomacy
7.  sensitive in feeling or manner; showing regard for the feelings of others
8.  excessively refined; squeamish
9.  archaic a delicacy; dainty
[C14: from Latin dēlicātus affording pleasure, from dēliciae (pl) delight, pleasure; see delicious]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin and History for delicate
late 14c., from L. delicatus "alluring, delightful, dainty," also "addicted to pleasure," of unknown origin; related by folk etymology (and perhaps genuinely) to deliciæ "a pet," and delicere "to allure, entice." Meaning "feeble in constitution" is c.1400; that of "easily broken" is recorded from 1560s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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