Definitions

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

  • adj. Pleasing to the senses, especially in a subtle way: a delicate flavor; a delicate violin passage.
  • adj. Exquisitely fine or dainty: delicate china.
  • adj. Frail in constitution or health.
  • adj. Easily broken or damaged: a kite too delicate to fly.
  • adj. Marked by sensitivity of discrimination: a critic's delicate perception.
  • adj. Considerate of the feelings of others.
  • adj. Concerned with propriety.
  • adj. Squeamish or fastidious.
  • adj. Requiring tactful treatment: a delicate situation.
  • adj. Fine or soft in touch or skill: a surgeon's delicate touch.
  • adj. Measuring, indicating, or responding to very small changes; precise: a delicate set of scales.
  • adj. Very subtle in difference or distinction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Easily damaged or requiring careful handling.
  • adj. Characterized by a fine structure or thin lines.
  • adj. Intended for use with fragile items.
  • adj. Of weak health, easily sick.
  • adj. Unwell, especially because of having drunk too much alcohol.
  • n. A delicate item of clothing, especially underwear or lingerie.
  • n. A choice dainty; a delicacy.
  • n. A delicate, luxurious, or effeminate person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Addicted to pleasure; luxurious; voluptuous; alluring.
  • adj. Pleasing to the senses; refinedly agreeable; hence, adapted to please a nice or cultivated taste; nice; fine; elegant
  • adj. Slight and shapely; lovely; graceful.”
  • adj. Fine or slender; minute; not coarse; -- said of a thread, or the like.
  • adj. Slight or smooth; light and yielding; -- said of texture.
  • adj. Soft and fair; -- said of the skin or a surface
  • adj. Light, or softly tinted; -- said of a color.
  • adj. Refined; gentle; scrupulous not to trespass or offend; considerate; -- said of manners, conduct, or feelings
  • adj. Tender; not able to endure hardship; feeble; frail; effeminate; -- said of constitution, health, etc.
  • adj. Requiring careful handling; not to be rudely or hastily dealt with; nice; critical.
  • adj. Of exacting tastes and habits; dainty; fastidious.
  • adj. Nicely discriminating or perceptive; refinedly critical; sensitive; exquisite
  • adj. Affected by slight causes; showing slight changes.
  • n. A choice dainty; a delicacy.
  • n. A delicate, luxurious, or effeminate person.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pleasing to any of the senses, especially to the sense of taste; dainty; delicious: opposed to coarse or rough.
  • Agreeable; delightful; charming.
  • Fine in characteristic details; minutely perfect in kind; exquisite in form, proportions, finish, texture, manner, or the like; nice; dainty; charming: as, a delicate being; a delicate skin or fabric; delicate tints.
  • Of a fine or refined constitution; refined.
  • Nice in construction or operation; exquisitely adjusted or adapted; minutely accurate or suitable: as, a delicate piece of mechanism; a delicate balance or spring.
  • Requiring nicety in action; to be approached or performed with caution; precarious; ticklish: as, a delicate surgical operation; a delicate topic of conversation.
  • Nice in perception or action; exquisitely acute or dexterous; finely sensitive or exact; deft: as, a delicate touch; a delicate performer or performance.
  • Nice in forms; regulated by minute observance of propriety, or by attention to the opinions and feelings of others; refined: as, delicate behavior or manners; a delicate address.
  • Susceptible to disease or injury; of a tender constitution; feeble; not able to endure hardship: as, a delicate frame or constitution; delicate health.
  • Nice in perception of what is agreeable to the senses or the intellect; peculiarly sensitive to beauty, harmony, or their opposites; dainty; fastidious: as, a delicate taste; a delicate eye for color.
  • Full of pleasure; luxurious; sumptuous; delightful.
  • Synonyms Pleasant, delicious, palatable, savory. Fastidious, discriminating. Sensitive.
  • n. Something savory, luscious, or delicious; a delicacy; a dainty.
  • n. A fastidious person.

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

  • adj. difficult to handle; requiring great tact
  • adj. exquisitely fine and subtle and pleasing; susceptible to injury
  • adj. of an instrument or device; capable of registering minute differences or changes precisely
  • adj. developed with extreme delicacy and subtlety
  • adj. marked by great skill especially in meticulous technique
  • adj. easily hurt
  • adj. easily broken or damaged or destroyed

Etymologies

Middle English delicat and French délicat, both from Latin dēlicātus, pleasing; akin to dēlicia, pleasure; see delicious.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"). (Wiktionary)

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