Definition of delicacy in English:


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nounplural noun delicacies

  • 1Fineness or intricacy of texture or structure.

    ‘miniature pearls of exquisite delicacy’
    • ‘Through the whole of the present exhibition, the changing shades of sepia, their delicacy and texture, create an impression of a sadness deep as a wound.’
    • ‘The result is wines unique in the world for their combination of low alcohol (often only about eight per cent), striking aroma, high extract, and delicacy of texture.’
    • ‘The structure shimmers with delicacy, and it is still standing after 160 years.’
    • ‘The DVD brings out these fleeting changes of visual texture with delicacy and firmness.’
    • ‘This is what the record sounds like and it has earned the above rating on pure execution within its sub-genre, structural delicacy, and elegance.’
    • ‘The delicacy of the molecular structure and of the dynamics may also play a role.’
    • ‘Set in Khartoum and London, the book charts the emotional and spiritual life of its Muslim heroine with tremendous grace and delicacy of expression.’
    • ‘The exhibition will explore the world of plant and flower painting, combining exquisite scientific detail with beauty, delicacy and expressiveness.’
    • ‘Many shots are composed with such delicacy and grace that I forgot I was watching a television program.’
    • ‘The fine furnishings bespoke delicacy and elegance that belied the shop's humble line of business.’
    • ‘The delicacy of the animation allows us to feel the texture of his fur, the warmth of his body.’
    • ‘Her interpretation was always clear in texture, with an inner calm and beautiful delicacy in the variations, which built towards a thrilling climax.’
    • ‘Certainly, it is not a seductive garment and the vision from inside pretty limited and you can only guess at the heat, but the colours and delicacy of its cloth is exquisite.’
    • ‘Beautiful juxtapositions of hardness and softness, strength and delicacy, men's work and women's work - and all within the context of remaking material history.’
    • ‘Then, in 1963, he travelled to California and developed a Pop Art style all his own - blazing colours, delicacy of line, geometrical buildings painted in oil and acrylic.’
    • ‘Three bars later, though, he'd be back tickling the finer notes out of Beethoven with utmost delicacy.’
    • ‘The sheer variety, delicacy, subtlety and compulsive fertility of her work is awe-inspiring.’
    • ‘Not much variation here, not much finesse, delicacy, lightness, or the Exotic other.’
    • ‘These structures are delicate and avoidance of injury requires delicacy and precision while performing the surgery.’
    fineness, exquisiteness, delicateness, intricacy, daintiness, airiness, elegance, gracefulness, grace
    sensitivity, precision, accuracy, exactness
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  • 2Susceptibility to illness or adverse conditions; fragility.

    ‘No, saris are not symbols of delicacy, of fragile femininity; of posh don't-get-your-hands dirty pettiness!’
    • ‘The chapter on the nest, its delicacy, its fragile nature and the monumental painful effort of the bird to build it is wonderful.’
    • ‘It was a dark song, with beautiful threads of delicacy and fragility weaved into both its lyrical and musical content.’
    • ‘Catalano, who could be robust and forthright in the expression of his views, was a poet of great delicacy and precision, a master of the fragilities.’
    • ‘Women's smallness, they thought, was dependent on bone size, which provided an absolute index of women's weakness and delicacy.’
    • ‘He claimed to have painted these pictures from the need to make a living, yet they have a fragile delicacy that is precious and rare.’
    sickliness, ill health, poor health, valetudinarianism, frailty, frailness, fragility, feebleness, weakness, debility
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  • 3Tact and consideration.

    ‘I have to treat this matter with the utmost delicacy’
    • ‘He unravels the tangled strands of social identity and interests that surrounded these protests with considerable delicacy and insight.’
    • ‘In his article he discusses the matter with considerable delicacy.’
    • ‘So intent are they upon handling each attendant issue with the utmost delicacy that they risk losing sight of the greater picture.’
    • ‘Full of ink, she held it out to Arthur with the utmost delicacy.’
    • ‘You get a sense of shared solitude, conveyed subtly but precisely, with masterly delicacy and without ostentatious ‘acting’.’
    • ‘My father carries on talking in this gentle voice, and I can see now that he has prepared for this carefully, and is handling the situation with great finesse and delicacy.’
    • ‘Before you start, you have to approach the situation with the utmost delicacy.’
    • ‘Personally, I want to say he was a ‘gentleman,’ to signify some old fashioned manner he had, a courtesy and delicacy and diplomacy.’
    • ‘As ghost stories go, this one is handled with great subtlety and delicacy - in fact, one could argue perhaps a little too much of both.’
    • ‘Establishing security among elated, frightened people requires delicacy as well as strength.’
    • ‘I learnt that the most precious things in my life have never been treated with any delicacy.’
    care, sensitivity, tact, discretion, diplomacy, finesse, subtlety, consideration, considerateness, sensibility
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    1. 3.1The quality of requiring discretion or sensitivity.
      ‘the delicacy of the situation’
      • ‘A topic that needs to be treated with delicacy and discretion.’
      • ‘The story of a nun and a marine could have easily become a cliché, but in their hands, it comes across with sensitivity and delicacy.’
      • ‘These two tentative explorations of gay subplots were handled with typical early-'80s delicacy and discretion.’
      • ‘The very delicacy of their situation is what provokes the attention-seeking behaviour.’
      • ‘This was a situation which the arbitrator found to be one of ‘obvious delicacy… one of considerable difficulty’.’
      difficulty, trickiness
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    2. 3.2Accuracy of perception; sensitiveness.
      ‘This is one of the novels in which, with much humour and delicacy of perception, the author depicts the reaction of different personality types to the new environment.’
      • ‘Can she who professed delicacy of sentiment and sincere regard for me, use me so very basely and so very cruelly?’
      • ‘The assessment of these injuries is a highly individual matter which requires great delicacy.…’
  • 4A choice or expensive food.

    ‘asparagus was considered a delicacy by the ancient Greeks’
    • ‘This one has mangos in all dishes from starters, soups to main course delicacies and desserts.’
    • ‘We take it for granted - rare delicacies and convenience foods from every corner of the globe without season or limit.’
    • ‘The exhibition halls will also host a food court providing delicacies from many countries.’
    • ‘The store has launched an appeal for local delicacies and food reared or grown in the area.’
    • ‘He is running a locally acclaimed food stall offering tokek meat delicacies on the menu.’
    • ‘In Vienna these traditional foods became delicacies to be introduced to the rest of Europe.’
    • ‘Japan is known to be a densely populated country, and there is a great demand for food and cultural delicacies.’
    • ‘Spend a week in Venice mastering local delicacies such as seafood ravioli, bigoli pasta and risi e bisi soup.’
    • ‘A stretched table filled with all the delicacies of Middle Eastern cuisine.’
    • ‘She brought me food, a variety of safe dishes and delicacies I'd never tasted before.’
    • ‘There will be five stalls for selling south Indian delicacies and the French cuisine from Pondichery.’
    • ‘Extensive use of exotic ingredients make the delicacies fresh, diverse and appetizing.’
    • ‘Each of these delicacies can be made with your choice of vegetables, chicken, shrimp or goat.’
    • ‘Booking is essential, to savour delicacies such as pumpkin cappellini and roasted wild rabbit.’
    • ‘We believe good chefs are those who create delicacies out of ordinary ingredients.’
    • ‘When it's time for the party to begin I see large silver dishes steaming with delicacies.’
    • ‘The theme had been of country cuisine with delicious curry and corn delicacies.’
    • ‘You might even develop an appetite for such delicacies as foie gras and bordelaise dessert canelais on the way.’
    • ‘The restaurant also boasts a seafood section of its dishes with delicacies to which anyone could be drawn.’
    • ‘Every Tuesday is a festival of Asian delicacies - all kinds of fragrant curries and fresh fruits.’
    choice food, gourmet food, dainty, treat, luxury, titbit, bonne bouche
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/ˈdeləkəsē/ /ˈdɛləkəsi/


Late Middle English (in the senses ‘voluptuousness’ and ‘luxuriousness’): from delicate+ -acy.