from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Pleasing to the senses, especially in a subtle way.
  • adjective Easily broken or damaged.
  • adjective Exquisitely fine or dainty: synonym: exquisite.
  • adjective Frail in constitution or health.
  • adjective Marked by sensitivity of discrimination.
  • adjective Very subtle in difference or distinction.
  • adjective Having or showing great consideration or care.
  • adjective Requiring careful or tactful treatment.
  • adjective Fine or soft in touch or skill.
  • adjective Measuring, indicating, or responding to very small changes; precise.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun Something savory, luscious, or delicious; a delicacy; a dainty.
  • noun A fastidious person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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


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

[Middle English delicat and French délicat, both from Latin dēlicātus, pleasing; akin to dēlicia, pleasure; see delicious.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").


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