delicate
Pronunciation
  • IPA: /ˈdɛlɪkət/
Adjective

delicate

  1. Easily damaged or requiring careful handling.
    Those clothes are made from delicate lace.
    The negotiations were very delicate.
  2. Characterized by a fine structure or thin lines.
    Her face was delicate.
    The spider wove a delicate web.
    There was a delicate pattern of frost on the window.
  3. Intended for use with fragile items.
    Set the washing machine to the delicate cycle.
  4. Refined; gentle; scrupulous not to trespass or offend; considerate; said of manners, conduct, or feelings.
    delicate behaviour; delicate attentions; delicate thoughtfulness
  5. Of weak health; easily sick; unable to endure hardship.
    a delicate child; delicate health
    • c. 1599–1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act IV, scene iv]:
      a delicate and tender prince
  6. (informal) Unwell, especially because of having drunk too much alcohol.
    Please don't speak so loudly: I'm feeling a bit delicate this morning.
  7. (obsolete) Addicted to pleasure; luxurious; voluptuous; alluring.
    • 1360–1387, William Langland, Piers Plowman (C-text), passus IX ↗, line 285:
      Þenk þat diues for hus delicat lyf to þe deuel wente.
    • circa 1660, John Evelyn (author), William Bray (editor), The Diary of John Evelyn, volume I of II (1901), entry for the 19th of August in 1641, page 29 ↗:
      Haerlem is a very delicate town and hath one of the fairest churches of the Gothic design I had ever seen.
  8. Pleasing to the senses; refined; adapted to please an elegant or cultivated taste.
    a delicate dish; delicate flavour
  9. Slight and shapely; lovely; graceful.
    • circa 1603, William Shakespeare, Othello, act II, scene iii ↗, lines 18 and 20–21:
      Cassio:   She’s a most exquisite lady.…Indeed, she’s a most fresh and delicate creature.
  10. Light, or softly tinted; said of a colour.
    a delicate shade of blue
  11. Of exacting tastes and habits; dainty; fastidious.
  12. Highly discriminating or perceptive; refinedly critical; sensitive; exquisite.
    a delicate taste; a delicate ear for music
  13. Affected by slight causes; showing slight changes.
    a delicate thermometer
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delicate (plural delicates)

  1. A delicate item of clothing, especially underwear or lingerie.
    Don't put that in with your jeans: it's a delicate!
  2. (obsolete) A choice dainty; a delicacy.
  3. (obsolete) A delicate, luxurious, or effeminate person.



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