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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 delicately
  • It takes millions of years of co-evolution to develop a fine tuned system, richly complex and delicately balanced.
  • Low entropy corresponds to something delicately tuned, so that's why it's easy for entropy to go up.
  • The device consisted of a weight delicately suspended in a large bronze urn, ringed by dragons with hinged jaws.
  • But people also soon noticed their delicately sculpted and decorated shells.
  • delicately fried oysters and buttery rare tuna are the highlights of a short but impressive list of appetizers.
  • The company discusses its relationship with electronics suppliers delicately.
  • It is the rate of what are known, delicately, as concurrent partnerships.
  • She turns to me, tilting her delicately featured face away from him.
  • Ham marrow is as delicately flavored and as easily spreadable as butter, but it has none of butter's spinelessness.
  • He slips a yellow plastic wedge into the cut and taps it delicately with his five-pound ax head.
British Dictionary definitions for delicately

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 delicately
adv.

mid-14c., "luxuriously," from delicate + -ly (2). Meaning "softly, gently" is early 15c.

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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