What does delicate mean?

Definitions for delicate
ˈdɛl ɪ kɪtdel·i·cate

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word delicate.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. delicateadjective

    exquisitely fine and subtle and pleasing; susceptible to injury

    "a delicate violin passage"; "delicate china"; "a delicate flavor"; "the delicate wing of a butterfly"

  2. delicateadjective

    marked by great skill especially in meticulous technique

    "a surgeon's delicate touch"

  3. delicate, fragile, frailadjective

    easily broken or damaged or destroyed

    "a kite too delicate to fly safely"; "fragile porcelain plates"; "fragile old bones"; "a frail craft"

  4. delicate, softadjective

    easily hurt

    "soft hands"; "a baby's delicate skin"

  5. finespun, delicateadjective

    developed with extreme delicacy and subtlety

    "the satire touches with finespun ridicule every kind of human pretense"

  6. delicate, ticklish, touchyadjective

    difficult to handle; requiring great tact

    "delicate negotiations with the big powers";"hesitates to be explicit on so ticklish a matter"; "a touchy subject"

  7. delicateadjective

    of an instrument or device; capable of registering minute differences or changes precisely

    "almost undetectable with even the most delicate instruments"


  1. delicatenoun

    A delicate item of clothing, especially underwear or lingerie.

    Don't put that in with your jeans: it's a delicate!

  2. delicatenoun

    A choice dainty; a delicacy.

    With abstinence all delicates he sees. uE000104742uE001 Dryden.

  3. delicatenoun

    A delicate, luxurious, or effeminate person.

    All the vessels, then, which our delicates have, uE000104743uE001 those I mean that would seem to be more fine in their houses than their neighbours, uE000104744uE001 are only of the Corinth metal. uE000104745uE001 Holland.

  4. delicateadjective

    Easily damaged or requiring careful handling.

  5. delicateadjective

    Characterized by a fine structure or thin lines.

  6. delicateadjective

    Intended for use with fragile items.

    Set the washing machine to the delicate cycle

  7. delicateadjective

    Of weak health, easily sick.

  8. delicateadjective

    Unwell, especially because of having drunk too much alcohol.

    Please don't speak so loudly - I'm feeling a bit delicate this morning

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Delicateadjective

    Etymology: delicat, French.

    As much blood passeth through the lungs as through all the rest of the body: the circulation is quicker, and heat greater, and their texture is extremely delicate. John Arbuthnot, on Aliments.

    The chusing of a delicate before a more ordinary dish, is to be done as other human actions are, in which there are no degrees and precise natural limits described. Taylour.

    Witness this army of such mass and charge,
    Led by a delicate and tender prince. William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

    Tender and delicate persons must needs be oft angry, they have so many things to trouble them, which more robust natures have little sense of. Francis Bacon, Essay 58.

    Where they most breed and haunt, I have observ’d
    The air is delicate. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Delicateadjective

    addicted to pleasure; luxurious; voluptuous; alluring

  2. Delicateadjective

    pleasing to the senses; refinedly agreeable; hence, adapted to please a nice or cultivated taste; nice; fine; elegant; as, a delicate dish; delicate flavor

  3. Delicateadjective

    slight and shapely; lovely; graceful; as, "a delicate creature."

  4. Delicateadjective

    fine or slender; minute; not coarse; -- said of a thread, or the like; as, delicate cotton

  5. Delicateadjective

    slight or smooth; light and yielding; -- said of texture; as, delicate lace or silk

  6. Delicateadjective

    soft and fair; -- said of the skin or a surface; as, a delicate cheek; a delicate complexion

  7. Delicateadjective

    light, or softly tinted; -- said of a color; as, a delicate blue

  8. Delicateadjective

    refined; gentle; scrupulous not to trespass or offend; considerate; -- said of manners, conduct, or feelings; as, delicate behavior; delicate attentions; delicate thoughtfulness

  9. Delicateadjective

    tender; not able to endure hardship; feeble; frail; effeminate; -- said of constitution, health, etc.; as, a delicate child; delicate health

  10. Delicateadjective

    requiring careful handling; not to be rudely or hastily dealt with; nice; critical; as, a delicate subject or question

  11. Delicateadjective

    of exacting tastes and habits; dainty; fastidious

  12. Delicateadjective

    nicely discriminating or perceptive; refinedly critical; sensitive; exquisite; as, a delicate taste; a delicate ear for music

  13. Delicateadjective

    affected by slight causes; showing slight changes; as, a delicate thermometer

  14. Delicatenoun

    a choice dainty; a delicacy

  15. Delicatenoun

    a delicate, luxurious, or effeminate person

  16. Etymology: [L. delicatus pleasing the senses, voluptuous, soft and tender; akin to deliciae delight: cf. F. dlicat. See Delight.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Delicate

    del′i-kāt, adj. pleasing to the senses, esp. the taste: dainty: nicely discriminating or perceptive: of a fine, slight texture or constitution: tender: frail, not robust: requiring nice handling: refined in manners: gentle, polite, considerate: luxurious.—n. Del′icacy, state or quality of being delicate: refinement: nicety: tenderness, weakness: luxuriousness: anything delicate or dainty.—adv. Del′icately, in a delicate manner: (B.) luxuriously.—n. Del′icateness, state of being delicate: (B.) delicacy, luxury.—n.pl. Del′icates (B.), delicacies. [L. delicātusdeliciæ, allurements, luxury—delicĕrede, inten., lacĕre, to entice.]

British National Corpus

  1. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'delicate' in Adjectives Frequency: #676

How to pronounce delicate?

How to say delicate in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of delicate in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of delicate in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of delicate in a Sentence

  1. Jeanne Moreau:

    Acting deals with very delicate emotions. It is not putting up a mask. Each time an actor acts he does not hide he exposes himself.

  2. Bernd Meyring:

    Where digital content is geoblocked this can often be a result of national intellectual property rights. Assessing whether this is a genuine concern or a pretext to separate the internal market is a delicate exercise in each of these cases, given all the limitations of existing tools, legislation would be a far more appropriate tool to deal with the issue than trying to use an imperfect tool box.

  3. Suu Kyi:

    Ties between neighbors are always more delicate than that between countries far apart, we'll pay special attention to our relations in order to make them smooth, effective and clear.

  4. Peter Moyle:

    It is a very delicate fish, but it’s just the first fish on the chopping block if we don’t manage the delta properly.

  5. David Gortler:

    Going back to my Yale days when I was a lowly fellow inside of a molecular biology lab, I had to work with RNA myself, he tells NPR. And RNA is something which is very, very delicate and it can be inactivated, just like — we used to joke — just by looking at it the wrong way.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for delicate

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • دقيق او حساسArabic
  • delicatCatalan, Valencian
  • jemný, rozklepaný, choulostivýCzech
  • empfindlich, feinfühlig, empfindsam, anspruchsvoll, feingliedrig, zierlich, leicht, ausgesucht, sanft, erlesen, zart, angeschlagen, anfällig, hochempfindlich, köstlich, schwächlich, delikat, wählerisch, grazil, anmutig, filigranGerman
  • delikata, delikatsentaEsperanto
  • delicadoSpanish
  • herkkäFinnish
  • délicatFrench
  • leiceIrish
  • halusIndonesian
  • delikatNorwegian
  • delikatnyPolish
  • delicadoPortuguese
  • delicatRomanian
  • разбитый, деликатный, болезненный, хрупкий, изысканный, изящныйRussian
  • సున్నితమైనTelugu

Get even more translations for delicate »


Find a translation for the delicate definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:

Discuss these delicate definitions with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


    "delicate." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 2 Dec. 2022. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/delicate>.

    Are we missing a good definition for delicate? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Browse Definitions.net

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!


    Are you a words master?

    malicious satisfaction
    • A. flub
    • B. lucubrate
    • C. knead
    • D. gloat

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for delicate: