(noun, adjective)


1. exquisitely fine and subtle and pleasing; susceptible to injury

- a delicate violin passage

- delicate china

- a delicate flavor

Similar word(s): dainty, exquisite, ethereal, gossamer, fragile, overdelicate, pastel, tender, breakable, frail, weak

2. marked by great skill especially in meticulous technique

- a surgeon's delicate touch

Similar word(s): skilled

3. easily broken or damaged or destroyed

- a kite too delicate to fly safely

Similar word(s): breakable, fragile, frail

4. easily hurt

- a baby's delicate skin

Similar word(s): tender, untoughened, soft

5. developed with extreme delicacy and subtlety

Similar word(s): refined, finespun

6. difficult to handle; requiring great tact

- delicate negotiations with the big powers

Similar word(s): difficult, hard, ticklish, touchy

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

- almost undetectable with even the most delicate instruments

Similar word(s): sensitive

Sentences with delicate as an adjective:

- Those clothes are made from delicate lace.

- The negotiations were very delicate.

- Her face was delicate.

- The spider wove a delicate web.

- There was a delicate pattern of frost on the window.

- Set the washing machine to the delicate cycle.

- delicate behaviour; delicate attentions; delicate thoughtfulness

- a delicate child; delicate health

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

- a delicate dish; delicate flavour

- a delicate shade of blue

- a delicate taste; a delicate ear for music

- a delicate thermometer


1. A delicate item of clothing, especially underwear or lingerie.

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

2. (obsolete) A choice dainty; a delicacy.

- With abstinence all delicates he sees. — Dryden.

3. (obsolete) A delicate, luxurious, or effeminate person.

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