Definition of delicate in English:

delicate

Line breaks: deli|cate
Pronunciation: /ˈdɛlɪkət
 
/

adjective

  • 1Very fine in texture or structure; of intricate workmanship or quality: a delicate lace shawl
    More example sentences
    • Your ears are connected to your nose and then to the sinuses by narrow passageways - delicate, intricate structures with a remarkable ability to recover after an infection such as a cold.
    • The crinkles in the gold leaf highlight the delicate texture of lace, the mottled surface of a pine plank table, or the peeling walls.
    • When at the click of a button you have the world on your screen, why bother debating the intricate and delicate fabrics our lives?
    Synonyms
    fine, exquisite, intricate, dainty, airy, elegant, graceful; flimsy, gauzy, filmy, floaty, gossamer, diaphanous, chiffony, silky, wispy, thin, insubstantial, papery
  • 1.1(Of colour) subtle and subdued: delicate pastel shades
    More example sentences
    • The colours are dominated by delicate pastels and powdery shades of white, sand, cream and beige.
    • The brow pencil in Soft Brown is a delicate colour and blended well when it was brushed.
    • The raspberry vodka is photosensitive so, in contrast to their other flavours, they bottle it in dark glass so it keeps its delicate colour.
    Synonyms
  • 1.2(Of food or drink) subtly and pleasantly flavoured: a delicate, sweet flavour
    More example sentences
    • A fruity, off-dry style from the southerly Pfalz region, this comparatively delicate wine has a pleasantly spicy undertone that would work brilliantly with this dish.
    • Well done toast on the nose gives way to delicate strawberry and raspberry flavours with hazelnut to finish.
    • The spotted crab, known for the colorful blue streaks on its shell, as well as its sweet and delicate meat, is famous.
  • 2Easily broken or damaged; fragile: delicate china
    More example sentences
    • Chemicals from tobacco smoke get into your bloodstream and can damage the delicate blood vessels inside your eye.
    • Mouth injuries, such as biting the inside of your lip or even brushing too hard and damaging the delicate lining inside your mouth, also seem to bring on canker sores.
    • The lungs are also delicate and easily damaged if the ventilation is too aggressive.
    Synonyms
    fragile, breakable, easily broken/damaged, frail, frangible; eggshell
  • 2.1Susceptible to illness or adverse conditions: his delicate health
    More example sentences
    • And I never did interview her because I was aware of her delicate health and I wanted to do it properly - to spend an afternoon with her.
    • These are usually the more delicate plants such as Clematis viticella, which are best with an annual light prune followed by hard pruning every ten years.
    • Wildlife lovers in Cheshire have drawn up plans to protect the county's animals and delicate plants from future environmental threats.
    Synonyms
    sickly, in poor health, unhealthy, valetudinarian, frail, feeble, weak, weakly, debilitated; unwell, infirm, ailing, poorly
    Northern English informal nesh
  • 2.2(Of a state or condition) easily upset or affected: owls have a delicate balance with their habitat
    More example sentences
    • I kept it from you because I didn't want to upset you in your delicate condition.
    • The wonderful team of nurses cared not only for Lydia, but the delicate state of the family at this time.
    • Instead, it captures the delicate state of a country at its most vulnerable.

noun

informal Back to top  
  • A delicate fabric or garment: [as modifier]: the delicates cycle of a washing machine
    More example sentences
    • It wasn't too long until I discovered her delicates (bras, panties, aerobic outfits, and make-up).
    • Just make sure that my delicates are washed by hand.
    • General sorting categories are whites, light colors, bright or deep-colored materials, permanent press, delicates, and clothes for the dry cleaners.

Phrases

in a delicate condition

archaic Pregnant.
More example sentences
  • The timeline suggests, although I don't have proof, that she may have been in a delicate condition while she was at Yale.
  • If it wasn't for the fact that you are in a delicate condition, I would have tickled you mercilessly for that last comment.
  • To her dismay, she soon found herself in a delicate condition and was obliged to marry George.

Derivatives

delicately

adverb
More example sentences
  • Cassara took the jewel in both of her hands, holding it carefully and delicately.
  • This is a very sensitive subject, and we will deal with it as delicately as possible.
  • My grandfather delicately held the creature with one hand and tried to loosen the snare with the other.

delicateness

noun
More example sentences
  • It was fantastic and different, somehow managing to bring out the delicateness of fish and the heartiness of stew at the same time.
  • They were definitely a man's step, not the same delicateness of a woman, but they were definitely muffled, it sounded like a man who naturally walked silently.
  • It has a delicateness of tone that recalls Debussy.

Origin

late Middle English (in the sense 'delightful, charming'): from French délicat or Latin delicatus, of unknown origin. Senses also expressed in Middle English (now obsolete) include 'voluptuous', 'self-indulgent', 'fastidious', and 'effeminate'.

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