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delicate

[del-i-kit] /ˈdɛl ɪ kɪt/
adjective
1.
fine in texture, quality, construction, etc.:
a delicate lace collar.
2.
fragile; easily damaged; frail:
delicate porcelain; a delicate child.
3.
so fine as to be scarcely perceptible; subtle:
a delicate flavor.
4.
soft or faint, as color:
a delicate shade of pink.
5.
fine or precise in action or execution; capable of responding to the slightest influence:
a delicate instrument.
6.
requiring great care, caution, or tact:
a delicate international situation.
7.
distinguishing subtle differences:
a delicate eye; a delicate sense of smell.
8.
exquisite or refined in perception or feeling; sensitive.
9.
regardful of what is becoming, proper, etc.:
a delicate sense of propriety.
10.
mindful of or sensitive to the feelings of others:
a delicate refusal.
11.
dainty or choice, as food:
delicate tidbits.
12.
primly fastidious; squeamish:
not a movie for the delicate viewer.
13.
Obsolete. sensuous; voluptuous.
noun
14.
Archaic. a choice food; delicacy.
15.
Obsolete. a source of pleasure; luxury.
Origin
1325-1375
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
Synonyms
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.
Antonyms
1, 2. coarse. 3. hard, crude.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web 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/
adjective
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
noun
9.
(archaic) a delicacy; dainty
Derived Forms
delicately, adverb
delicateness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin dēlicātus affording pleasure, from dēliciae (pl) delight, pleasure; see delicious
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 delicate
adj.

late 14c., "self-indulgent, loving ease; delightful; sensitive, easily hurt; feeble," from Latin delicatus "alluring, delightful, dainty," also "addicted to pleasure, luxurious, effeminate;" of uncertain origin; related by folk etymology (and perhaps genuinely) to deliciae "a pet," and delicere "to allure, entice" (see delicious). Meaning "easily broken" is recorded from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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