[ dih-lish ]
/ dɪˈlɪʃ /
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adjective Informal.
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Origin of delish

First recorded in 1920–25; by shortening and alteration
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does delish mean?

Delish is a shortened form of the word delicious, colloquially used for tasty food, attractive people, or other things that provide great pleasure.

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 an attractive 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).

How is delish used in real life?

While clipped from delicious, delish is not just a synonym for delicious in its wide use in colloquial speech and writing. 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.

More examples of delish:

“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


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.