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From Old French deintié, from Latin dignitātem. Doublet of dignity.


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈdeɪnti/
  • (file)
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  • Rhymes: -eɪnti


dainty (plural dainties)

  1. (obsolete) Esteem, honour.
  2. A delicacy.
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
      [] my case was deplorable enough, yet I had great cause for thankfulness that I was not driven to any extremities for food, but had rather plenty, even to dainties.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Cowper
      [A table] furnished plenteously with bread, / And dainties, remnants of the last regale.
  3. (Canada, Prairies and northwestern Ontario) A fancy cookie, pastry, or square served at a social event (usually plural).
  4. (obsolete) An affectionate term of address.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ben Jonson to this entry?)

Related termsEdit



dainty (comparative daintier, superlative daintiest)

  1. (obsolete) Excellent; valuable, fine.
  2. Elegant; delicately small and pretty.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Those dainty limbs which nature lent / For gentle usage and soft delicacy.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity:
      However, with the dainty volume my quondam friend sprang into fame. At the same time he cast off the chrysalis of a commonplace existence.
  3. Fastidious and fussy, especially when eating.




  • “dainty” in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2004.