Where does delish come from?
As a colloquial shortening of delicious, delish appears in print in the early 20th century. One early instance from 1920 characterizes some popular music as delish.
While we may normally associate the word with food, delicious has described a range of things, from landscapes to literature, as providing intense amusement or enjoyment. The same applies to the slang delish, which in the 2000s became a slang descriptor for a sexy man or a situation that seems too good to be true.
The popularity of delish may have received a boost in the 1990s and 2000s as part of a trend of shortening words, especially ones featuring the J sound in bridge, with casual pronounced (and inconsistently written) as caj, usual as yoozh, and naturally as natch. This trend appears to be happening with other slang abbreviations, particularly in the speech of young women, such as totes (totally) and obvs (obviously).
Who uses delish?
While clipped from delicious, delish is not just a synonym for delicious in its wide use in colloquial speech and writing. In fact, it's often a more intensive way of calling something delicious, along the lines of scrumptious or delectable, and implies the food, person, or thing isn't just pleasant but is an entire sensual experience.
In speech, delish is often used as a kind of interjection issued in response to an experience, emphatically stressed as "Mm-mm! Dee-lish!" Delish has also inspired the names of many food establishments and websites, such as Delish.com, a popular recipe site.
Note that delish is sometimes, despite its long history, wrongly stereotyped as an overused word in the lazy, air-headed speech of teenage girls, à la totes.
So WHO will be in the Eatyard once doors open?...Firstly, the regular fave, Box Burger will be back serving up delish burgers and tasty fries mmmm.
Denise Curtin, Her, March, 2018
It's #WineWednesday so of course I'm heading to wine country 😁🍷 I'll be exploring beautiful & historic @LanzeracWines 🍇 We'll be helping to harvest the vines while building up an appetite for a delish lunch & sipping on some amazing wines 🍴🍓🧀🥂 Can't wait! 💃 #winetripping
@livingitupct, March, 2018
"That's the guy I've been looking for!" I yelled.
"Me, too. He's delish, right?" Tate said, punctuating the statement with a war-whoop holler.
"No. I mean, yes, he's delish. But that's not what I meant. I know him." I pointed my finger in Mr. Price's direction.
Gemma Halliday & T. Sue VerSteeg, Luck Be a Lady, 2015