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dainty

[deyn-tee]
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adjective, dain·ti·er, dain·ti·est.
  1. of delicate beauty; exquisite: a dainty lace handkerchief.
  2. pleasing to the taste and, often, temptingly served or delicate; delicious: dainty pastries.
  3. of delicate discrimination or taste; particular; fastidious: a dainty eater.
  4. overly particular; finicky.
noun, plural dain·ties.
  1. something delicious to the taste; a delicacy.

Origin of dainty

1175–1225; Middle English deinte worthiness, happiness, delicacy < Anglo-French (Old French deint(i)e) < Latin dignitāt- (stem of dignitās); see dignity
Related formsdain·ti·ly, adverbdain·ti·ness, nouno·ver·dain·ti·ly, adverbo·ver·dain·ti·ness, nouno·ver·dain·ty, adjectivesu·per·dain·ty, adjectiveun·dain·ti·ly, adverbun·dain·ti·ness, nounun·dain·ty, adjective

Synonyms

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1. fine. 2. tender, delectable. 4. overnice. 5. tidbit, sweetmeat.

Synonym study

1. See delicate. 3. See particular.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dainty

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She signified her helplessness with a quick and dainty movement of her hands.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • She carried her head with the dainty alertness of a beautiful bird.

  • It was so much more beautiful to be dainty and small and piquant.

  • She did not know that they were bluets, but she knew they were dainty and sweet and beckoned to her.

    Four Girls and a Compact

    Annie Hamilton Donnell

  • They covered me with a dainty coverlet spun of the hair of a hundred gnats.


British Dictionary definitions for dainty

dainty

adjective -tier or -tiest
  1. delicate or eleganta dainty teacup
  2. pleasing to the taste; choice; deliciousa dainty morsel
  3. refined, esp excessively genteel; fastidious
noun plural -ties
  1. a choice piece of food, esp a small cake or sweet; delicacy
Derived Formsdaintily, adverbdaintiness, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French deintié, from Latin dignitās dignity
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

Word Origin and History for dainty

n.

c.1300, "excellence, elegance; a luxury," from Old French deintie (12c.) "price, value," also "delicacy, pleasure," from Latin dignitatem (nominative dignitas) "greatness, rank, worthiness, worth, beauty," from dignus "worthy" (see dignity).

adj.

c.1300, "delightful, pleasing," from dainty (n.). Meaning evolved in Middle English to "choice, excellent" (late 14c.) to "delicately pretty." Related: Daintiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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