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 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.

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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 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.
delicately
adverb uk   /ˈdel.ɪ.kət.li/  us   /ˈdel.ə.kət.li/
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 Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"delicate" in American English

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delicateadjective

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

needing careful treatment, esp. because easily damaged: a delicate flower delicate jewelry
Delicate also means needing 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 experienced surgeon to do it.
  • delicate adjective (PLEASANT)

pleasant but not easily noticed or strong: a delicate flavor We chose a delicate floral pattern for our bedroom curtains.
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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