In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, the author was describing someone:

He was a very meek and mild young man, thought Blick, as far as appearance went; an intellectual of some sort, evidently. He had a very high, broad forehead; a mass of long and untidy hair brushed back from it; a pair of large, somewhat brilliant eyes; a wide, sensitive mouth, and a generally high-strung aspect. Blick’s sharp eyes took all this in at a glance; he also observed that the young man’s black coat was very much stained in front, as though he was in the bad habit of spilling things on it, and that his long, delicately-fashioned fingers were also stained—his hands, in fact, from wrists to finger-tips were disfigured with odd patches of green, purples, and scarlets. A queer-looking chap, thought the detective, and yet, no ordinary one.

I found that "delicate" may mean "sickly weak and fragile", and the author said that he usually spills things; and this may suggest that he can't hold the the things strongly, so is that the exact meaning here?


‘Fashion’ means

to form, mould, shape

and ‘delicately’ means

In a way that is exquisitely fine, soft, graceful, etc.

(All definitions taken from the Oxford English Dictionary)

Therefore fingers which have been ‘delicately fashioned’ will have a shape that is elegant and probably slender.

For a body part to be delicately made does not, absent other context, mean that the person is of delicate health. ‘Delicate’ in that sense is an adjective, ‘delicately’ is an adverb and does not carry a connotation of sickliness.

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