See more synonyms for delicacy on
noun, plural del·i·ca·cies.
  1. fineness of texture, quality, etc.; softness; daintiness: the delicacy of lace.
  2. something delightful or pleasing, especially a choice food considered with regard to its rarity, costliness, or the like: Caviar is a great delicacy.
  3. the quality of being easily broken or damaged; fragility.
  4. the quality of requiring or involving great care or tact: negotiations of great delicacy.
  5. extreme sensitivity; precision of action or operation; minute accuracy: the delicacy of a skillful surgeon's touch; a watch mechanism of unusual delicacy.
  6. fineness of perception or feeling; sensitiveness: the delicacy of the pianist's playing.
  7. fineness of feeling with regard to what is fitting, proper, etc.: Delicacy would not permit her to be rude.
  8. sensitivity with regard to the feelings of others: She criticized him with such delicacy that he was not offended.
  9. bodily weakness; liability to sickness; frailty.
  10. Linguistics. (especially in systemic linguistics) the degree of minuteness pursued at a given stage of analysis in specifying distinctions in linguistic description.
  11. Obsolete. sensuous indulgence; luxury.

Origin of delicacy

First recorded in 1325–75, delicacy is from the Middle English word delicasie. See delicate, -cy
Related formshy·per·del·i·ca·cy, noun

Synonyms for delicacy

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Antonyms for delicacy

1, 6. coarseness. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for delicacy

Contemporary Examples of delicacy

Historical Examples of delicacy

  • I have a feeling of delicacy about trying to see you again so soon.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • It will sound strange that dry bread could possibly be a delicacy to any one.

    De Profundis

    Oscar Wilde

  • But this being a delicate affair, Comrade Ossipon behaved with delicacy.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • I'm an enemy to their delicacy, as I am sure it conduces to their misery.

  • Mr. Hervey could not be insensible to her distress or to her delicacy.

British Dictionary definitions for delicacy


noun plural -cies
  1. fine or subtle quality, character, construction, etcdelicacy of craftsmanship
  2. fragile, soft, or graceful beauty
  3. something that is considered choice to eat, such as caviar
  4. fragile construction or constitution; frailty
  5. refinement of feeling, manner, or appreciationthe delicacy of the orchestra's playing
  6. fussy or squeamish refinement, esp in matters of taste, propriety, etc
  7. need for tactful or sensitive handling
  8. accuracy or sensitivity of response or operation, as of an instrument
  9. (in systemic grammar) the level of detail at which a linguistic description is made; the degree of fine distinction in a linguistic description
  10. obsolete gratification, luxury, or voluptuousness
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 delicacy

late 14c., "delightfulness; fastidiousness; quality of being addicted to sensuous pleasure," from delicate + -cy. Meaning "fineness, softness, tender loveliness" is from 1580s; that of "weakness of constitution" is from 1630s. Meaning "fine food, a dainty viand" is from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper