n. pl. del·i·ca·cies
1. The quality of being delicate.
2. Something pleasing and appealing, especially a choice food.
3. Fineness of appearance, construction, or execution; elegance: brushwork of great delicacy.
4. Frailty of bodily constitution or health.
5. Sensitivity of perception, discrimination, or taste; refinement.
a. Sensitivity to the feelings of others; tact: phrased the apology with delicacy.
b. Sensitivity to what is proper; propriety.
c. Undue sensitivity to or concern with what may be considered offensive or improper; squeamishness: scenes that might offend a viewer's delicacy.
7. The need for tact in treatment or handling: a topic of some delicacy.
8. Sensitivity to very small changes; precision: the delicacy of a set of scales.
[Middle English delicacie, from delicat, delicate; see DELICATE.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.