One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Art. Lifelike delicacy in flesh tints.
2Generally. Delicacy, softness, especially in musical performance; sensibility, smoothness. Also occasionally with negative connotation: unwholesomeness, effeminacy, sickliness.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Henry Wotton (1568–1639), diplomat and writer. From Italian morbidezza softness, delicacy, nonchalant grace, (of women and children) delicacy of complexion, softness of tonality or harmony of light and shade in a painting, harmony of proportions in a statue or relief from morbido + -ezza.
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