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See also: délicate



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).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈdɛlɪkət/
  • (file)


delicate (comparative more delicate, superlative most delicate)

  1. Easily damaged or requiring careful handling.
    Those clothes are made from delicate lace.
    The negotiations were very delicate.
    • F. W. Robertson
      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[1]:
      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.
  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
    • Shakespeare
      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.
  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.
  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


Related terms[edit]


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)

  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.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Dryden, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      With abstinence all delicates he sees.
  3. (obsolete) A delicate, luxurious, or effeminate person.
    • (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.

Further reading[edit]



delicate f pl

  1. Feminine plural of adjective delicato.





  1. vocative masculine singular of dēlicātus






  1. feminine plural nominative form of delicat
  2. feminine plural accusative form of delicat
  3. neuter plural nominative form of delicat
  4. neuter plural accusative form of delicat