- 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.
Origin of delicate
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for delicate
The scenes between Johansson and Adam Pearson, a man with neurofibromatosis, are some of the most delicate and visceral this year.Oscars 2015: The Daily Beast’s Picks, From Scarlett Johansson to ‘Boyhood’
January 6, 2015
She used electrolysis to banish the prickly hair from her delicate face.Inside A Finishing School for Transwomen
December 27, 2014
It's about the delicate fabric of the universe and how our fragile insides crumble when that fabric is torn.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days
December 13, 2014
For those with a predilection for immaculately fine and delicate paintings by Botticelli, his Madonna of the Book will satisfy.The Virgin Mary Lookbook
December 7, 2014
Its spine, too, “‘hubbed’ as the most prized European classics are,” is decorated with delicate gold squiggles and a star.Rand Paul’s Many Leather-Bound Books
November 27, 2014
Some of its furnishings are so delicate that I hardly like to touch them.Ester Ried Yet Speaking
However, it is popular because of its unique and delicate flavor.Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 3
Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
There is nothing luminous, transparent, or delicate about dust.
If the delicate redness of the sky is not caused by dust, what is it caused by?
From the very beginning Wisi was too delicate for all the work and care that came upon her.Rico and Wiseli
- exquisite, fine, or subtle in quality, character, construction, etc
- having a soft or fragile beauty
- (of colour, tone, taste, etc) pleasantly subtle, soft, or faint
- easily damaged or injured; lacking robustness, esp in health; fragile
- precise, skilled, or sensitive in action or operationa delicate mechanism
- requiring tact and diplomacy
- sensitive in feeling or manner; showing regard for the feelings of others
- excessively refined; squeamish
- archaic a delicacy; dainty
Word Origin and History for delicate
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.