Posted by: Natalie | March 18, 2010

Word of the Day: Nice


Word Origins:

Many words change their meaning through their existence, but ‘nice’ has made a huge swing. Originally it meant ‘stupid’, coming from the Latin adjective nescius meaning ‘ignorant’, ne meaning ‘not’ and scire meaning ‘to know’. In Old French, nescius became nice, still meaning ignorant. But in the 13th Century, the slow but sure mutation of the meaning in English began. It moved from ‘ignorant’ or ‘foolish’ to ‘shy’ and from there to ‘refined’. This caused a split in meaning which still, believe it or not, exists today. The rarer form being to ‘discriminate with great delicacy’ e.g. a nice distinction. The other, and over used and irritating word for ‘pleasant’. Where will nice stop next?! Nobody knows!! But I suspect its already changing!

Urban Dictionary Definition:

  1. Used as a filler during a pause in conversation. Doesn’t necessarily mean something complimentary.
  2. Used by men to describe all women in an offhanded way when expressing their real opinions will cause them great troubles. For example they could be under threat of being slapped and dumped by their girlfriends, or being punched and kicked into a pile by their buddies.
  3. talented
  4. high on marijuana
  5. an interjection similar to saying word when you are in agreement with what someone just said or you approve of what they said
  6. When someone does something very stupid

Nat’s Definition:

  • “Nice is not a word, it’s a biscuit!” blasted at me in one of my first classrooms by 36 ten year olds!
  • A method of describing something in a completely non-committed manner!
  • Aesthetically pleasing.
  • Things that are pretty or kind.
  • A way of avoiding being drawn on an opinion.
  • A place in France.
  • A way of recognising that someone has just said or done something stupid or horrible.
  • Mainly used with sarcasm.

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