Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “delicate”

See all translations

delicate

adjective uk   /ˈdel.ɪ.kət/ us  

delicate adjective (EASILY DAMAGED)

B2 needing careful treatment, especially because easily damaged: Peaches have delicate skins which are easily bruised. Delicate plants need to be kept in a greenhouse during the winter. delicate china Molly's health has always been delicate (= she gets sick easily).C1 needing to be done carefully: Repairing damaged nerves is a very delicate operation/process.
More examples

delicate adjective (DIFFICULT)

a delicate situation, matter, point, etc. C1 a situation. matter, etc. that needs to be dealt with carefully in order to avoid trouble or offence: I need to speak to you about a delicate matter. The pay negotiations have reached a delicate point/stage. Teachers need to strike a delicate (= carefully achieved) balance between instructing their students and letting them discover things for themselves.

delicate adjective (ACCURATE)

able to measure very small changes: Weather-forecasters have extremely delicate equipment which helps them predict what the weather is going to be like.

delicate adjective (SOFT)

B2 pleasantly soft or light: a rose with a delicate scent a delicate shade of pink We chose a delicate floral pattern for our bedroom curtains.

delicate adjective (ATTRACTIVE)

C2 having a thin, attractive shape: She folded her delicate hands on the table.
delicately
adverb uk   /-li/ us  
I thought you handled the situation very delicately (= in a way that avoided causing offence). The dessert was delicately flavoured with vanilla.
(Definition of delicate from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of delicate?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “delicate” in other dictionaries

SMART Thesaurus: Fragile and breakable

“delicate”: synonyms and related words:

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

Word of the Day

past participle

the form of a verb, usually made by adding -ed, used in some grammatical structures such as the passive and the present perfect

Word of the Day

Euphemisms (Words used to Avoid Offending People)

by Kate Woodford,
March 04, 2015
​​​ We recently looked at the language that we use to describe lies and lying. One area of lying that we considered was ‘being slightly dishonest, or not speaking the complete truth’. One reason for not speaking the complete truth is to avoid saying something that might upset or offend people. Words and

Read More 

snapchat verb

March 02, 2015
to send someone a message using the photomessaging application Snapchat We used to have a thing until he got a girlfriend. now

Read More