I don’t like lackluster words. In fact, when asked a question, I pretty much forbade my family from the use of the words boring, interesting and fine as acceptable answers when given without a qualifier. To me, these words lack substance and don’t really explain the way that you feel. While I sometimes use these words myself, I do try to avoid as often as possible. But of all the words that people use and I hate, the number one word on my list is:
How was the show? It was nice.
What’s your kids new significant other like? They’re nice.
How’s the food. It’s nice
What does the responder mean by any of these statements? And I don’t mean NICE said with any inflection or said as NOYCE, which is a common phrase these days…
I mean the actual word NICE.
So I looked up the etymology of the word NICE:
Thank you Oxford Languages for the following:
Latin origin- Nescire- definition- NOT KNOW
which evolved to:
Latin- nescius- IGNORANT
which evolved to:
Old French-nice- STUPID
Archaic Meaning- Fastidious or scrupulous
Is a word that took it’s meaning from stupid and ignorant really the word that you want to use to say something good about something else?
How was the show? Stupid. How’s the new girlfriend? Ignorant.
Obviously, the word nice has transformed itself over the years to mean:
Pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory
My first question is: If you actually mean to say pleasant, agreeable or satisfactory, why wouldn’t you use those much better words? When someone says pleasant, I can conjure up a mind picture. I know exactly what they mean. Same with satisfactory and agreeable. Word pictures.
Let’s think on this for a moment: If you said your son’s new person was “satisfactory” what does that actually mean about your possible future in law?
So when you say something is nice…what do you really mean? Pleasant, agreeable or satisfactory? See how NICE becomes a non descript word? When you refer to someone/something as nice, I don’t know if you mean pleasant or satisfactory- and there is a world of difference between those two word choices. The only thing I do know is that I probably won’t see a show, eat a meal or expect much of a person when they are labeled as NICE.
With the plethora of gorgeous and explicit words in our lexicon, why do we overuse the same tired words?
Have we gotten lazy while we are speaking?
Let’s revitalize our conversations and word choice…
After all, we don’t want to be ignorant or stupid…
Oops- I meant NICE…