- 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 for delicate on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for delicately
The cheery 69-year-old father of eight sits in the center with his wife and delicately brandishes a small, brown book.The Congo's Forgotten Colonial Getaway
December 18, 2014
PANKISI GORGE, Georgia—The mother of martyrs, a woman in her fifties, is delicately beautiful and visibly in pain.The Secret Life of an ISIS Warlord
Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, Nino Burchuladze
October 27, 2014
This deft, delicately wrought story is Murakami at his best.Haruki Murakami's Weird, Wonderful World
August 15, 2014
I just found it depressingly tone deaf for a show that typically handles these sensitive issues so delicately.‘Orange Is the New Black’: Inside the Wild S2 Finale and What’s Next for Season 3
Kevin Fallon, Marlow Stern
July 12, 2014
He tops the concoction with a shot of bourbon and delicately spoons in a couple ice cubes.The Rise and Fall…and Rise Again of the Old-Fashioned
June 14, 2014
"Wait a minute," said Reid, his long, delicately shaped fingers trembling.The Bacillus of Beauty
They were delicately pencilled, and Amory watched her and noted them.Quaint Courtships
I cannot see any more, because, as I have delicately suggested, I am a heavy man.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
With some embarrassment he delicately, timidly, hinted his apprehensions.Tales And Novels, Volume 9 (of 10)
It was an old hand, delicately white, with large finger-joints.The Coryston Family
Mrs. Humphry Ward
- 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 delicately
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.