View synonyms for delicate


[ del-i-kit ]


  1. fine in texture, quality, construction, etc.:

    a delicate lace collar.

    Antonyms: coarse

  2. easily broken or damaged; physically weak; fragile; frail:

    delicate porcelain;

    a delicate child.

    Synonyms: tender, slight, feeble, weak, frangible, flimsy, brittle

  3. so fine as to be scarcely perceptible; subtle:

    a delicate flavor.

    Antonyms: strong, robust

  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.

    Synonyms: true, accurate, precise, exact

  6. requiring great care, caution, or tact:

    a delicate international situation.

    Synonyms: touchy, sensitive, tricky

  7. distinguishing subtle differences: a delicate sense of smell.

    a delicate eye;

    a delicate sense of smell.

    Synonyms: perceptive, discriminating, discerning

  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.


  1. Archaic. a choice food; delicacy.
  2. Obsolete. a source of pleasure; luxury.


/ ˈdɛlɪkɪt /


  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


  1. archaic.
    a delicacy; dainty

Discover More

Derived Forms

  • ˈdelicately, adverb
  • ˈdelicateness, noun

Discover More

Other Words From

  • del·i·cate·ly adverb
  • del·i·cate·ness noun
  • hy·per·del·i·cate adjective
  • hy·per·del·i·cate·ness noun
  • non·del·i·cate adjective
  • non·del·i·cate·ness noun
  • qua·si-del·i·cate adjective
  • su·per·del·i·cate adjective
  • su·per·del·i·cate·ness noun

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of delicate1

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English delicat, from Latin dēlicātus “delightful, dainty”; akin to delicious

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of delicate1

C14: from Latin dēlicātus affording pleasure, from dēliciae (pl) delight, pleasure; see delicious

Discover More

Synonym Study

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.

Discover More

Example Sentences

Trimming nose hairs is delicate, personal business, and the Norelco has that firmly in mind.

The sheer glass makes for a delicate and unique way to display plants.

There’s an air intake on each side, and the entire back of the machine is vented to funnel hot air away from the delicate components inside.

The demo showed it stacking several delicate wine glasses on top of each other on an unfamiliar surface.

Worse, he said, is that he had spent years digging and rigging holes to water cattle based on where rain pools, a delicate system that would be jeopardized by trenching and construction.

The scenes between Johansson and Adam Pearson, a man with neurofibromatosis, are some of the most delicate and visceral this year.

She used electrolysis to banish the prickly hair from her delicate face.

It's about the delicate fabric of the universe and how our fragile insides crumble when that fabric is torn.

For those with a predilection for immaculately fine and delicate paintings by Botticelli, his Madonna of the Book will satisfy.

Its spine, too, “‘hubbed’ as the most prized European classics are,” is decorated with delicate gold squiggles and a star.

The flowers grow in clusters from the extremities of the stalk; they are yellow externally and of a delicate red within.

This Captain Kirton was really the best of the Kirton bunch: a quiet, unassuming young man, somewhat delicate in health.

Isabel had a glimpse of a delicate high-bred face set like a panel in a parted curtain.

Indifferent health, for he was delicate too, was one of the bonds between us.

Not to smoke at all in the presence of a superior, is held the most delicate homage which can be paid him.