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I'm not sure what this means. Thanks for your help.

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It would be very helpful to give context. At least, a full sentence, and possibly also the two preceding sentences of the source. –  Phira May 9 '12 at 19:29
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It is not a very precise word; it means, roughly: difficult, intricate, detailed, ornate. –  user29743 May 9 '12 at 19:34
    
In other words it needs to be "handled with care". (BTW, have you chosen "praying mantis" as your name, or is it just coincidentally that way in Pinyin?) –  rschwieb May 9 '12 at 19:49
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Sometimes it means, "The conditions are very specific, and any slight change in the conditions renders the conclusion invalid." –  Thomas Andrews May 9 '12 at 20:47
    
It is basically the same as when one writes "Handle with care" on a biochemical substance. It might be disastrous if used wrongly or with little care. –  Pedro Tamaroff May 9 '12 at 21:53

1 Answer 1

Context would be useful, but I generally use it to mean the theorem requires several intricate hypotheses, all of which must be precisely stated in order to reach the desired conclusion. Such a theorem is "delicate" because it will not tolerate rough-handling (i.e. a quick and dirty statement of the hypotheses).

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Yes, delicate in the sense of easily breakable. –  lhf May 9 '12 at 19:48

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