From Middle English delicat, from Latin delicatus (“giving pleasure, delightful, soft, luxurious, delicate, in Medieval Latin also fine, slender”), from delicia, usually in plural deliciae (“pleasure, delight, luxury”), from delicere (“to allure”), from de (“away”) + lacere (“to allure, entice”). Compare Spanish delgado (“thin, skinny”).
- Easily damaged or requiring careful handling.
- Those clothes are made from delicate lace.
- The negotiations were very delicate.
- 1850 April 18, Frederik W. Robertson, An Address Delivered to the Members of the Working Man's Institute, page 5:
- There are some things too delicate and too sacred to be handled rudely without injury to truth.
- 2012 April 23, Angelique Chrisafis, “François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election”, in the Guardian:
- The final vote between Hollande and Sarkozy now depends on a delicate balance of how France's total of rightwing and leftwing voters line up.
- 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.
- Intended for use with fragile items.
- Set the washing machine to the delicate cycle.
- Refined; gentle; scrupulous not to trespass or offend; considerate; said of manners, conduct, or feelings.
- delicate behaviour
- delicate attentions
- delicate thoughtfulness
- 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: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene iv]:
- a delicate and tender prince
- (informal) Unwell, especially because of having drunk too much alcohol.
- Please don't speak so loudly: I'm feeling a bit delicate this morning.
- (obsolete) Addicted to pleasure; luxurious; voluptuous; alluring.
- Pleasing to the senses; refined; adapted to please an elegant or cultivated taste.
- a delicate dish
- delicate flavour
- Slight and shapely; lovely; graceful.
- Light, or softly tinted; said of a colour.
- a delicate shade of blue
- Of exacting tastes and habits; dainty; fastidious.
- Highly discriminating or perceptive; refinedly critical; sensitive; exquisite.
- a delicate taste
- a delicate ear for music
- Affected by slight causes; showing slight changes.
- a delicate thermometer
- (easily damaged): fragile
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
delicate (plural delicates)
- A delicate item of clothing, especially underwear or lingerie.
- Don't put that in with your jeans: it's a delicate!
- (obsolete) A choice dainty; a delicacy.
- 1712, William King, The Art of Cookery, in Imitation of Horace's Art of Poetry:
- With Abstinence all Delicates he Sees, / And can regale himself with Toast and Cheese.
- (obsolete) A delicate, luxurious, or effeminate person.
- 1830, “The Barge's Crew”, in The Log Book; Or, Nautical Miscellany, page 341:
- A council of war was called, and the delicates met in the great cabin ; the platform was rigged up on the forecastle, the yard-rope rove, and the signal made for all boats to attend execution
- (Can we date this quote?), Holland, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
- All the vessels, then, which our delicates have, — those I mean that would seem to be more fine in their houses than their neighbours, — are only of the Corinth metal.
- delicate in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- delicate in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
- delicate in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
- delicate in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
- delicate in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette