Definitions

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

  • adj. Characterized by intricate and beautiful design or execution: an exquisite chalice.
  • adj. Of such beauty or delicacy as to arouse intense delight: an exquisite sunset. See Synonyms at delicate.
  • adj. Excellent; flawless: plays the piano with exquisite technique.
  • adj. Acutely perceptive or discriminating: "Blind dolphins have been known to survive in the wild, guided by exquisite acoustic images of their prey” ( Kenneth Browser).
  • adj. Intense; keen: suffered exquisite pain.
  • adj. Obsolete Ingeniously devised or thought out.
  • n. One who is excessively fastidious in dress, manners, or taste.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Especially fine or pleasing; exceptional.
  • adj. Carefully adjusted; precise; accurate; exact.
  • adj. Recherché; far-fetched; abstruse.
  • adj. Of special beauty or rare excellence.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Carefully selected or sought out; hence, of distinguishing and surpassing quality; exceedingly nice; delightfully excellent; giving rare satisfaction.
  • adj. Exceeding; extreme; keen; -- used in a bad or a good sense.
  • adj. Of delicate perception or close and accurate discrimination; not easy to satisfy; exact; nice; fastidious.
  • n. One who manifests an exquisite attention to external appearance; one who is overnice in dress or ornament; a fop; a dandy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Exceedingly choice, elegant, fine, or dainty; very delightful, especially from delicacy of beauty or perfection of any kind: as, a vase of exquisite workmanship; an exquisite miniature; exquisite lace.
  • Very accurate, delicate, or nice in action or function; especially, of keen or delicate perception or discrimination; delicately discriminating: as, exquisite taste, etc.
  • Giving or susceptible of pleasure or pain in the highest degree; intense; keen; poignant: as, exquisite joy or torture; an exquisite sensibility.
  • Curious; careful.
  • Skilful; cunning; consummate.
  • Recondite; deep. Sir T. Elyot, The Governour, i. 10.
  • n. A superfine gentleman; a dandy; a fop; a coxcomb.
  • n. Synonyms Fop, Dandy, etc. See coxcomb.

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

  • adj. delicately beautiful
  • adj. lavishly elegant and refined
  • adj. of extreme beauty
  • adj. intense or sharp

Etymologies

Middle English exquisit, carefully chosen, from Latin exquīsītus, past participle of exquīrere, to search out : ex-, ex- + quaerere, to seek.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin exquīsītus, perfect passive participle of exquīrō ("seek out"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • President's picture, full of grace and life, and richly meriting the term exquisite: nothing can be finer than the dark luxuriant hair contrasted with the alabaster delicacy and elegance of the features; the eyes too beam with benignant expressiveness.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 14, No. 402, Supplementary Number (1829)

  • The Big House was of sturdy concrete, but here was marble in exquisite delicacy.

    CHAPTER XXVIII

  • We had attended Morning Chant and were now seated for breakfast, disheartened but not surprised that the early Greys had already taken the bacon, and it remained only in exquisite odor.

    Excerpt: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

  • Tolkien can be seen as the archetype, constructing languages, histories, location in exquisite detail for his Middle Earth.

    Approaching the blank page – part 4 « Write Anything

  • The cumulative effect is devastating, as DeLillo in exquisite increments lowers the reader into an inexorable rendezvous with raw terror.

    Falling Man by Don DeLillo: Book summary

  • Each of them travel throughout the many cities of Europe tracking Dracula and tracking each other through their letters; clearly Kostova herself traveled to each of this cities, for the book is partially a travel log of Europe, written in exquisite detail.

    2010 February 10 « The BookBanter Blog

  • If you watch the briefing (which I recommend, you can view it off of Space Multimedia) it is explained in exquisite detail.

    Back to the Moon We Go - NASA Watch

  • Let's see ... pornography has been strictly and totally off limits for kids since forever, but letting them virtually hack other people, monsters, and aliens to bloody shreds in exquisite, life-like detail and with the most vicious weapons imaginable is (ho hum) tolerated, if not exactly condoned?

    High court accepts case over violent video games

  • Step 1 of the preemie research uses a technology called optical coherence tomography, or OCT, that beams light to create a map of the back of the eye, showing the retina's layers in exquisite detail.

    Testing tool may help prevent blindness in preemies

  • These fossils represent a record of the Cambrian explosion and "they are precious because they preserve in exquisite detail ... the soft anatomy of organisms."

    Boing Boing

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  • "What is more, people whose own hearts are not directly involved always regard unfortunate entanglements, disastrous marriages, as though one were free to choose whom one loves, and do not take into account the exquisite mirage which love projects and which envelops so entirely and so uniquely the person with whom one is in love that the "folly" a man commits by marrying his cook or the mistress of his best friend is as a rule the only poetical action that he performs in the course of his existence."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 923 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 23, 2010

  • "As for Gilberte, she was all the more glad to find the subject being dropped, in that she herself was only too anxious to drop it, having inherited from Swann his exquisite tact combined with a delightful intelligence that was recognised and appreciated by the Duke and Duchess, who begged her to come again soon."

    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 786 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 20, 2010

  • "However, when Swann was dead, it happened that her determination not to know his daughter had ceased to provide Mme de Guermantes with all the satisfactions of pride, independence, "self-government" and cruelty which she was capable of deriving from it and which had come to an end with the passing of the man who had given her the exquisite sensation that she was resisting him, that he could not compel her to revoke her decrees."

    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 780 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 20, 2010

  • "Which of us has not experienced in the course of his life exquisite uncertainties more or less similar to this? A charitable friend, to whom one describes a girl one has seen at a ball, concludes from the description that she must be one of his friends and invites one to meet her. But among so many others, and on the basis of a mere verbal portrait, is there not a possibility of error? The girl you are about to see may well turn out to be a different girl from the one you desire."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 761 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 18, 2010

  • "Hearing it from a neighbouring room without being able to see, one may mistake for uncontrollable laughter the noise which is forced by pain from a patient being operated on without an anaesthetic; and as for the noise emitted by a mother who has just been told that her child has died, it can seem to us, if we are unaware of its origin, as difficult to translate into human terms as the noise emitted by an animal or by a harp. It takes us a little time to realise that those two noises express what, by analogy with the (very different) sensations we ourselves may have felt, we call pain; and it took me some time, too, to understand that this noise expressed what, by analogy with the (very different) sensations I myself had felt, I called pleasure; and the pleasure must have been very great to overwhelm to this extent the person who was expressing it and to extract from her this strange utterance which seemed to describe and comment on all the phases of the exquisite drama which the young woman was living through and which was concealed from my eyes by the curtain that is for ever lowered for other people over what happens in the mysterious intimacy of every human creature."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, pp 741-742 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 18, 2010

  • "It is indeed probable that for Albertine, even if they had been true, even if she had admitted them, her own misdeeds (whether her conscience had thought them innocent or reprehensible, whether her sensuality had found them exquisite or somewhat insipid) would not have been accompanied by that inexpressible sense of horror from which I was unable to detach them."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 697 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 16, 2010

  • "But very soon, the triumphant motif of the bells having been banished, dispersed by others, I succumbed once again to the music; and I began to realise that if, in the body of this septet, different elements presented themselves one after another to combine at the close, so also Vinteuil's sonata and, as I later discovered, his other works as well, had been no more than timid essays, exquisite but very slight, beside the triumphal and consummate masterpiece now being revealed to me."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 335 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    January 20, 2010

  • "The cellist was hunched over the instrument which he clutched between his knees, his head bowed forward, his coarse features assuming an involuntary expression of disgust at the more mannerist moments; another leaned over his double bass, fingering it with the same domestic patience with which he might have peeled a cabbage, while by his side the harpist, a mere child in a short skirt, framed behind the diagonal rays of her golden quadrilateral, recalling those which, in the magic chamber of a sibyl, arbitrarily denote the ether according to the traditional forms, seemed to be picking out exquisite sounds here and there at designated points, just as though, a tiny allegorical goddess poised before the golden trellis of the heavenly vault, she were gathering, one by one, its stars."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 334 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    January 20, 2010

  • "Our shadows, now parallel, now close together and joined, traced an exquisite pattern at our feet."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 227 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    January 11, 2010

  • "I had barely time to make out, being separated from them by the glass of the car as effectively as I should have been by that of my bedroom window, a young fruit-seller, or a dairymaid, standing in the doorway of her shop, illuminated by the sunshine like a heroine whom my desire was sufficient to launch upon exquisite adventures, on the threshold of a romance which I should never know."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 216 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    January 11, 2010

  • "The other musician, he who was delighting me at the moment, Wagner, retrieving some exquisite fragment from a drawer of his writing-table to introduce it, as a retrospectively necessary theme, into a work he had not even thought of at the time he composed it, then having composed a first mythological opera, and a second, and afterwards others still, and perceiving all of a sudden that he had written a tetralogy, must have felt something of the same exhilaration as Balzac when the latter, casting over his books the eye at once of a stranger and of a father, finding in one the purity of Raphael, in another the simplicity of the Gospel, suddenly decided, shedding a retrospective illumination upon them, that they would be better brought together in a cycle in which the same characters would reappear, and touched up his work with a swift brush-stroke, the last and the most sublime."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 205 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    January 8, 2010

  • "exquisite dead guy, rotating in his display case"

    I like exquisite because it defines the way it sounds. The "quis" just has a sort of crescendo to it that is almost too much.

    January 17, 2009

  • Especially in songs.

    April 26, 2008

  • Often followed by the word corpse.

    April 26, 2008

  • "And I realised that it was for herself that she obeyed these canons in accordance with which she dressed, as though yielding to a superior wisdom of which she herself was the high priestess: for if it should happen that, feeling too warm, she threw open or even took off altogether and gave me to carry the jacket which she had intended to keep buttoned up, I would discover in the blouse beneath it a thousand details of execution which had had every chance of remaining unobserved, like those parts of an orchestral score to which the composer has devoted infinite labour although they may never reach the ears of the public: or, in the sleeves of the jacket that lay folded across my arm I would see, and would lengthily gaze at, for my own pleasure or from affection for its wearer, some exquisite detail, a deliciously tinted strap, a lining of mauve satinette which, ordinarily concealed from every eye, was yet just as delicately fashioned as the outer parts, like those Gothic carvings on a cathedral, hidden on the inside of a balustrade eighty feet from the ground, as perfect as the bas-reliefs over the main porch, and yet never seen by any living man until, happening to pass that way upon his travels, an artist obtains leave to climb up there among them, to stroll in the open air, overlooking the whole town, between the soaring towers."

    -- Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, Revised by D.J. Enright, pp 293-294 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    April 26, 2008