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:

NICE

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…

71 thoughts on “It’s Nice

  1. I had to smile because I say nice a fair amount. It’s a easy go to word 🙂 I also liked that you mentioned fine. I’ve been curious about the shift of this word. I remember reading Hemingway and he would say something like “we had a fine afternoon,” and mean it as keen, very enjoyable. We still use the terms fine dining and fine wine to mean a higher level of quality. Which is much different than saying “I’m fine” to mean just okay. A curious difference.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t mind these words if further explanation is given…it’s just when asked a question, to give one of those answers is lackluster I guess. It’s funny because I don’t use the term fine dining. I’ll probably say expense account or special occasion or pretensions….depending on the place. But if I was writing a historical fiction piece I would use the Hemingway interpretation of fine.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve heard a lot of people argue that the word “nice” isn’t particularly good for describing how kind someone is. The word “nice” implies that someone is being phony or fake.

    However, I like the idea of describing someone as satisfactory. Especially if you don’t like them. I’m going to use that from now on.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Yes! We have gotten lazy in our speaking and writing. While I was teaching I spent hours every day attempting to expand students’ vocabulary.However, in our actual lives we get distracted and lazy. . In our emails and texts we can’t even bother to write actual words let alone descriptive words! Everyone is in a hurry, doesn’t want to take the time, or invest in the work it takes to find a better word.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I never knew that about nice. Now it puts a lot of description about myself and characters I’ve described into a rather startling light. I do believe we are getting lazy with word usage but that’s the evolution in communication, I suppose. However I draw the line if my son thinks we’re going to have a conversation in text speech. NOPE.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. 😀 I had no clue about the etymology. Noyce!

    My overused word exposures are ‘fine’ and ‘good.’ “How are you?” “Fine.” “Good.”
    I agree about being more specific… buuut, I’m apparently odd in how I go for deep topics fairly quickly.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I dislike the word nice. It was one that the ex used when I asked how I looked when we were getting ready to go out. I would have prepped and felt beautiful and when I’d ask how I looked, he’d reply ‘nice’ and it made me insane. Nice is what you say to your Grandma when she’s all dressed up. Not your wife when she’s noticeably made a huge effort…oh, I think you snagged a nerve on me.
    Nope not NICE…
    And thanks for the teaching moment because who knew that nice had a different definition!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I only ever use nice if I mispell it as niice…as in an expression of enjoyment. I don’t think I ever use nice to describe anyone I know. Unless I am being sarcastic. I prefer words like swell or swellerific or fantabulous 😁. Ever notice on the news when you find out about a serial killer the next door always “But, they were such a nice person.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Interesting origins! I’m going to work on putting more specific, descriptive words in my speech. The overused word that came to mind in response to your post is “fine.” As in, “How are you?” “Fine.” That is different than laziness, however. It is a protective device because most people don’t really want to know the details of your mental or physical health nor do people want to share them casually. Thus, “fine!”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Good point about another term–I’ll give that some thought. Meanwhile, what I say that I hope implies that I actually care and would welcome a more complete response is “How are you TODAY?”

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Curious etymology of the word NICE. Thank you for sharing. I’m probably oblivious to my personal use of the word. I need to keep better track of what emanates from my mouth. There are many of these lazy words, as some have pointed out: fine, okay, etc. We could all do a better job of word selection to be precise.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Hahaha. You always frame the conversation excellently. Alright, I think one reason people use the world nice, is to avoid the conversation you are pointing to as needed; and I agree with you. When we dumb down our conversations to “global” words with little substance, we are not conversing anymore. We are checking a box. No thanks. Was that nice? Hahaha. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Checking a box! That’s such a great way of thinking about it because that’s exactly what using empty words is: saying something in a situation that requisites an answer yet not really giving thought to it

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Well said. I think sometimes people hide their true opinions by replying “nice.” Sometimes they get stuck in a rut, or just may not think before they speak. My ” no-no” word is “thing(s.) I stop and think and use a synonym instead .

    Liked by 2 people

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