delicate (adj.)

late 14c., of persons, "self-indulgent, loving ease;" also "sensitive, easily hurt, feeble;" of things, "delightful," from Latin delicatus "alluring, delightful, dainty," also "addicted to pleasure, luxurious, effeminate," in Medieval Latin "fine, slender;" related to deliciae "pleasure, delight, luxury," and delicere "to allure, entice," from de "away" (see de-) + lacere "to lure, entice," which is of uncertain origin. Compare delicious, delectable, delight.

Meaning "so fine or tender as to be easily broken" is recorded from 1560s. Meaning "requiring nice and skillful handling" is by 1742. Sense of "exquisitely adjusted in construction" is from 1756. Related: Delicateness.

Origin and meaning of delicate

updated on October 13, 2021