Definition of delicacy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdɛlɪkəsi/

noun (plural delicacies)

[mass noun]
1Fineness or intricacy of texture or structure: miniature pearls of exquisite delicacy
More example sentences
  • Through the whole of the present exhibition, the changing shades of sepia, their delicacy and texture, create an impression of a sadness deep as a wound.
  • The result is wines unique in the world for their combination of low alcohol (often only about eight per cent), striking aroma, high extract, and delicacy of texture.
  • The structure shimmers with delicacy, and it is still standing after 160 years.
fineness, exquisiteness, delicateness, intricacy, daintiness, airiness, elegance, gracefulness, grace;
flimsiness, gauziness, floatiness, silkiness
sensitivity, precision, accuracy, exactness
2Susceptibility to illness or adverse conditions; fragility.
Example sentences
  • No, saris are not symbols of delicacy, of fragile femininity; of posh don't-get-your-hands dirty pettiness!
  • The chapter on the nest, its delicacy, its fragile nature and the monumental painful effort of the bird to build it is wonderful.
  • It was a dark song, with beautiful threads of delicacy and fragility weaved into both its lyrical and musical content.
sickliness, poor/ill health, valetudinarianism, frailty, frailness, fragility, feebleness, weakness, debility;
3Tact and consideration: I have to treat this matter with the utmost delicacy
More example sentences
  • He unravels the tangled strands of social identity and interests that surrounded these protests with considerable delicacy and insight.
  • In his article he discusses the matter with considerable delicacy.
  • So intent are they upon handling each attendant issue with the utmost delicacy that they risk losing sight of the greater picture.
care, sensitivity, tact, discretion, diplomacy, finesse, subtlety, consideration, considerateness, sensibility
3.1The quality of requiring discretion or sensitivity: the delicacy of the situation
More example sentences
  • A topic that needs to be treated with delicacy and discretion.
  • The story of a nun and a marine could have easily become a cliché, but in their hands, it comes across with sensitivity and delicacy.
  • These two tentative explorations of gay subplots were handled with typical early-'80s delicacy and discretion.
3.2Accuracy of perception; sensitiveness.
Example sentences
  • This is one of the novels in which, with much humour and delicacy of perception, the author depicts the reaction of different personality types to the new environment.
  • Can she who professed delicacy of sentiment and sincere regard for me, use me so very basely and so very cruelly?
  • The assessment of these injuries is a highly individual matter which requires great delicacy.…
4 [count noun] A choice or expensive food: traditional Japanese delicacies
More example sentences
  • This one has mangos in all dishes from starters, soups to main course delicacies and desserts.
  • We take it for granted - rare delicacies and convenience foods from every corner of the globe without season or limit.
  • The exhibition halls will also host a food court providing delicacies from many countries.
choice food, gourmet food, dainty, treat, luxury, titbit, bonne bouche;
North American  tidbit
archaic cate


Late Middle English (in the senses 'voluptuousness' and 'luxuriousness'): from delicate + -acy.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: deli|cacy

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