Word for Wednesday: Nice

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It’s probably one of the most-used words in the English language. Chances are you’ve been advised not to use it by a teacher. I wouldn’t be surprised if we feature it for one of our 10 Words blog posts in the future. 

If something is nice, it is ‘pleasant’. You can read the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word here

Here is nice used in some example sentences: 

  • The weather is supposed be nice this weekend. 
  • He wasn’t very nice to his parents. 

Last week we looked at the word 'kind', which originally meant ‘treating someone like family’, and it's quite easy to imagine how the meaning of the word might have evolved. Nice, on the other hand, used to mean something quite different to what it means now and its definition has changed many times over the years. 

When it was first used in the late thirteenth century, nice meant ‘foolish’, ‘frivilous’, or ‘ignorant’. The word derives from the Latin ‘neccius’ meaning ‘ignorant’ and entered English via Old French. By the late fourteenth century its meaning evolved to mean ‘fussy’ or ‘fastidious’. Later, by the fifteenth century it meant ‘dainty’ or ‘delicate’, and by the sixteenth century it meant ‘precise’ or ‘careful’. The word took on the meaning ‘agreeable’ in 1769 and ‘kind’ in 1830.  

I wonder whether the meaning of the word will have changed a hundred years from now...

20 Nov 2019
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