c. 1300, deinte, "delightful, pleasing" (late 12c. as a surname), from dainty (n.); see below. Meaning evolved in Middle English to "choice, excellent" (late 14c.) to "delicately pretty, exhibiting exquisite taste or skill" (c. 1400). Sense of "fastidious, affectedly fine, weak, effeminate" is from 1570s. Related: Daintiness.
The noun is Middle English deinte "regard, affection" (mid-13c.), from c. 1300 as "excellence, elegance;" also "a luxury, a precious thing, fine food or drink;" from Anglo-French deinte, Old French deintie (12c.) "price, value," also "delicacy, pleasure," from Latin dignitatem (nominative dignitas) "greatness, rank, worthiness, worth, beauty," from dignus "worthy, proper, fitting," from PIE *dek-no-, from root *dek- "to take, accept."
It forms all or part of: condign; dainty; decent; decor; decorate; decorous; deign; dignify; dignity; diplodocus; disciple; discipline; disdain; docent; Docetism; docile; docimacy; doctor; doctrine; document; dogma; dogmatic; doxology; heterodox; indignance; indignant; indignation; indignity; orthodox; paradox; synecdoche.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit daśasyati "shows honor, is gracious," dacati "makes offerings, bestows;" Greek dokein "to appear, seem, think," dekhesthai "to accept;" Latin decere "to be fitting or suitable," docere "to teach," decus "grace, ornament."
"things dainty and gratifying to the palate," early 15c., plural of delicacy in the "fine food" sense.
1788, dinkie, "neat, trim, dainty, small," from Scottish dialectal dink "finely dressed, trim" (c. 1500), which is of unknown origin. Modern sense of "small, tiny" is by 1859. Related: Dinkiness.
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.
The -k- between the final -c- and a suffix beginning in -i, -y, or -e is an orthographic rule to mark the pronunciation of -c- as "k" (compare picnicking, trafficking, panicky, shellacked). Related: Finickiness.
"extremely cautiously" (of movements, etc.), c. 1600; earlier "elegantly, daintily" (1510s), of unknown origin. Perhaps [OED] from Old French gensor, comparative of gent "dainty, delicate," from Latin gentius "(well)-born" (see gentle).
"affectedly dainty, simpering," 1520s, probably originally in reference to speech, when words were "clipped" to affect elegance; or in reference to walking with short steps; present-participle adjective from mince (v.). Related: Mincingly.