Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Delicately beautiful or charming; exquisite: "No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year” ( Walt Whitman).
  • adj. Delicious or choice. See Synonyms at delicate.
  • adj. Of refined taste; discriminating.
  • adj. Overly fastidious; squeamish.
  • n. Something delicious; a delicacy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Esteem, honour.
  • n. A delicacy.
  • n. Fancy cookies, pastries, or squares served at a social event (usually plural).
  • adj. Excellent; valuable, fine.
  • adj. Delicately small and pretty.
  • adj. Fastidious and fussy when eating.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Rare; valuable; costly.
  • adj. Delicious to the palate; toothsome.
  • adj. Nice; delicate; elegant, in form, manner, or breeding; well-formed; neat; tender.
  • adj. Requiring dainties. Hence: Overnice; hard to please; fastidious; squeamish; scrupulous; ceremonious.
  • n. Value; estimation; the gratification or pleasure taken in anything.
  • n. That which is delicious or delicate; a delicacy.
  • n. A term of fondness.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Worth; value; excellence.
  • n. A matter of joy or gratification; special regard or pleasure.
  • n. Pl. dainties (dān′ tiz). Something delicate to the taste; something delicious; a delicacy.
  • n. Darling: a term of fondness.
  • n. Synonyms Tidbit, etc. See delicacy.
  • Valuable; costly.
  • Exhibiting or possessing delicate beauty, or exquisite taste or skill; elegant; beautiful; neat; trim.
  • Pleasing to the palate; toothsome; delicious: as, dainty food.
  • Of acute sensibility or nice discrimination; sensitive.
  • Especially Of nice discrimination as regards taste; nice or over-nice in selecting what is preferred in any class of things, as food, clothing, etc.; hence, squeamish: as, a dainty taste or palate; dainty people.
  • Nice as regards behavior, decorum, intercourse, etc.; fastidious; hence, affectedly fine; effeminate; weak.
  • = Syn, 2. Pretty. Savory, luscious, toothsome.5 and Nice, Fastidious, etc. See nice.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. especially pleasing to the taste
  • n. something considered choice to eat
  • adj. delicately beautiful
  • adj. affectedly dainty or refined
  • adj. excessively fastidious and easily disgusted

Etymologies

Middle English deinte, excellent, excellence, from Old French deintie, from Latin dignitās, from dignus, worthy; see dek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French deintié, from Latin dignitātem. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Though he does not succeed in the delineation of the great and grand passions of our nature, he is very successful in the sphere of its humane and tender sentiments; and though open to criticism for the jaunty audacity with which he coins dainty sweetnesses of expression rejected by all dictionaries, and for an occasional pertness in asserting opinions of doubtful truth, he is so lovable a creature that we pardon his literary foibles as we would pardon the personal foibles of a charming companion and friend.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 01, No. 01, November, 1857 A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics

  • At stately Augusta, where change forever has been taken in dainty sips, this is like the frat boys just showed up with a keg.

    USATODAY.com - Traditions die hard at Augusta National

  • I did her hair, soft-like, round her forehead, all in dainty curls, and just to one side of her neck I put a bunch of most beautiful purple pansies.

    The Garden Party, and Other Stories

  • In one corner the waitresses, in dainty caps and aprons, had put their heads together, and were eagerly whispering to one another whilst casting furtive looks at the small group assembled in front of one of those pretty alcoves, which, as you know, line the walls all round the big tea-room at Mathis '.

    Lady Molly of Scotland Yard

  • They were clothed in dainty muslin, three as sweet young girls as one would ever meet.

    Just Patty

  • The tea was excellent; the toast was in dainty, delicate, thin brown strips.

    Melbourne House

  • "Undreamed of!" cried Mercedes, throwing up her hands in dainty dismay.

    Chapter 5

  • Kind-hearted but rough-mannered youths, who loved Merry very much, but teased her sadly about her "fine lady airs," as they called her dainty ways and love of beauty.

    Jack And Jill

  • The opposite hills, on the east, were in dainty sunshine and shadow, every undulation, every ridge and hollow, softly marked out.

    The Hills of the Shatemuc

  • Even forty years ago, when he wasn’t so strapped with gym muscle, Lewis had been too big for what he called the dainty moves.

    The Wall

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • See pair.

    December 3, 2007

  • It seems to do that fairly frequently, I've noticed.

    December 3, 2007

  • Clever how weirdnet uses the word within its own definition!

    December 2, 2007