delicate Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “delicate” in the English Dictionary

"delicate" in British English

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delicateadjective

uk   /ˈdel.ɪ.kət/  us   /ˈdel.ə.kət/
  • delicate adjective (EASILY DAMAGED)

B2 needingcarefultreatment, ​especially because ​easilydamaged: Peaches have delicate ​skins which are ​easilybruised. Delicate ​plants need to be ​kept in a ​greenhouse during the ​winter. delicate ​china Molly's health has always been delicate (= she gets ​sickeasily).
C1 needing to be done ​carefully: Repairing ​damagednerves is a very delicate operation/​process.

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  • delicate adjective (DIFFICULT)

a delicate situation, matter, point, etc.
C1 a ​situation. ​matter, etc. that ​needs to be ​dealt with ​carefully in ​order to ​avoidtrouble or ​offence: I need to ​speak to you about a delicate ​matter. The ​paynegotiations have ​reached a delicate ​point/​stage. Teachers need to ​strike a delicate (= ​carefullyachieved)balance between ​instructingtheirstudents and ​letting them ​discover things for themselves.
  • delicate adjective (ACCURATE)

able to ​measure very ​smallchanges: Weather-forecasters have ​extremely delicate equipment which ​helps them ​predict what the ​weather is going to be like.
  • delicate adjective (ATTRACTIVE)

C2 having a ​thin, ​attractiveshape: She ​folded her delicate ​hands on the ​table.
delicately
adverb uk   /ˈdel.ɪ.kət.li/  us   /ˈdel.ə.kət.li/
I ​thought you ​handled the ​situation very delicately (= in a way that ​avoidedcausingoffence). The ​dessert was delicately ​flavoured with ​vanilla.
(Definition of delicate from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"delicate" in American English

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delicateadjective

 us   /ˈdel·ɪ·kət/
  • delicate adjective (EASILY DAMAGED)

needingcarefultreatment, esp. because ​easilydamaged: a delicate ​flower delicate ​jewelry
Delicate also ​meansneeding to be ​dealt with ​carefully in ​order to ​avoid causing ​trouble or ​offense: The ​negotiations have ​reached a delicate ​stage. It’s a delicate ​operation, and you ​want an ​experiencedsurgeon to do it.
  • delicate adjective (PLEASANT)

pleasant but not ​easilynoticed or ​strong: a delicate ​flavor We ​chose a delicate ​floralpattern for ​ourbedroomcurtains.
delicately
adverb  us   /ˈdel·ɪ·kət·li/
Please ​handle the ​china delicately.
(Definition of delicate from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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