late 14c., "delightfulness; fastidiousness; quality of being addicted to sensuous pleasure," from delicate + abstract noun suffix -cy. Meaning "fine food, a dainty viand" is from early 15c. Meaning "fineness, softness, tender loveliness" is from 1580s; that of "weakness of constitution" is from 1630s.
"things dainty and gratifying to the palate," early 15c., plural of delicacy in the "fine food" sense.
"morbid softness of tissue," 1650s, from Latinized form of Greek malakia "softness, delicacy, effeminacy," from malakos "soft," from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft." Related: Malacic.
1570s, "to ripen, bring to maturity" (transitive), from mellow (adj.). Intransitive sense of "become soft, be ripened" is from 1590s. Transferred sense of "give richness, flavor, or delicacy to" is from 1590s. Related: Mellowed; mellowing.
"pedantic woman, woman aiming at refined delicacy of language and taste," a French word attested in English from 1727, from French précieuse, noun use of fem. of précieux (see precious (adj.)); especially as lampooned in Molière's comedy "Les Précieuses ridicules" (1659).
"prawns eaten as a delicacy," by 1930, popular from 1960s, plural of Italian scampo "prawn," a word from Venetian dialect, ultimately from Greek kampē, also "caterpillar, silkworm, grub," probably all in the sense of "the curved animal," literally "a bending, bow, curvature" (see campus).
1877, "delicacies, articles of fine food," American English, from German delikatessen, plural of delikatesse "a delicacy, fine food," from French délicatesse (1560s), from délicat "fine," from Latin delicatus "alluring, delightful, dainty" (see delicate). As a store where such things are sold, 1901, short for delicatessen shop.