AskDefine | Define delicate

Dictionary Definition

delicate adj
1 exquisitely fine and subtle and pleasing; susceptible to injury; "a delicate violin passage"; "delicate china"; "a delicate flavor"; "the delicate wing of a butterfly" [ant: rugged]
2 marked by great skill especially in meticulous technique; "a surgeon's delicate touch"
3 easily broken or damaged or destroyed; "a kite too delicate to fly safely"; "fragile porcelain plates"; "fragile old bones"; "a frail craft" [syn: fragile, frail]
4 easily hurt; "soft hands"; "a baby's delicate skin" [syn: soft]
5 developed with extreme delicacy and subtlety; "the satire touches with finespun ridicule every kind of human pretense" [syn: finespun]
6 difficult to handle; requiring great tact; "delicate negotiations with the big powers"; "hesitates to be explicit on so ticklish a matter" [syn: ticklish]
7 of an instrument or device; capable of registering minute differences or changes precisely; "almost undetectable with even the most delicate instruments"

User Contributed Dictionary



Middle English delicat < Latin delicatus



  1. Easily damaged or requiring careful handling.
    Those clothes are delicate
    The negotiations were very delicate
  2. Characterized by a fine structure or thin lines.
    Her face was delicate
    The spider wove a delicate web
    There was a delicate pattern of frost on the window
  3. Intended for use with fragile items.
    Set the washing machine to the delicate cycle
  4. Of weak health, easily sick.
  5. Unwell, especially because of having drunk too much alcohol.
    Please don't speak so loudly - I'm feeling a bit delicate this morning



  1. A delicate item of clothing
    Don't put that in with your jeans, it's a delicate!
  2. Specifically underwear or lingerie.



  1. feminine plural of delicato




Extensive Definition

Delicate may refer to:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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