from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Pleasing and agreeable in nature: had a nice time.
  • adj. Having a pleasant or attractive appearance: a nice dress; a nice face.
  • adj. Exhibiting courtesy and politeness: a nice gesture.
  • adj. Of good character and reputation; respectable.
  • adj. Overdelicate or fastidious; fussy.
  • adj. Showing or requiring great precision or sensitive discernment; subtle: a nice distinction; a nice sense of style.
  • adj. Done with delicacy and skill: a nice bit of craft.
  • adj. Used as an intensive with and: nice and warm.
  • adj. Obsolete Wanton; profligate: "For when mine hours/Were nice and lucky, men did ransom lives/Of me for jests” ( Shakespeare).
  • adj. Obsolete Affectedly modest; coy: "Ere . . . /The nice Morn on th' Indian steep,/From her cabin'd loop-hole peep” ( John Milton).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. Nicely.
  • interj. Used to signify a job well done.
  • interj. Used to signify approval.
  • v. To run a process with a specified (usually lower) priority.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Foolish; silly; simple; ignorant; also, weak; effeminate.
  • adj. Of trifling moment; unimportant; trivial.
  • adj. Overscrupulous or exacting; hard to please or satisfy; fastidious in small matters.
  • adj. Delicate; refined; dainty; pure.
  • adj. Apprehending slight differences or delicate distinctions; distinguishing accurately or minutely; carefully discriminating.
  • adj. Done or made with careful labor; suited to excite admiration on account of exactness; evidencing great skill; exact; fine; finished; ; exactly or fastidiously discriminated; requiring close discrimination.
  • adj. Pleasing; agreeable; gratifying; delightful; good
  • adj. Pleasant; kind.
  • adj. Well-mannered; well-behaved.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Ignorant; weak; foolish.
  • Trivial; unimportant.
  • Fastidious; very particular or scrupulous; dainty; difficult to please or satisfy; exacting; squeamish.
  • Discriminating; critical; discerning; acute.
  • Characterized by exactness, accuracy, or precision; formed or performed with precision or minuteness and exactness of detail; accurate; exact; precise: as, nice proportions; nice calculations or workmanship.
  • Fine; delicate; involving or demanding scrupulous care or consideration; subtle; difficult to treat or settle.
  • Delicate; soft; tender to excess; hence, easily influenced or injured.
  • Modest; coy; reserved.
  • Pleasant or agreeable to the senses; delicate; tender; sweet; delicious; dainty; as, a nice bit; a nice tint.
  • Pleasing or agreeable in general.
  • Agreeable; pleasant; good: applied to persons.
  • [Nice in this sense is very common in colloquial use as a general epithet of approbation applicable to anything that pleases.]
  • Synonyms Nice., Dainty, Fastidious, Squeamish, finical, delicate, exquisite, effeminate, fussy. Nice is the most general of the first four words; it suggests careful choice: as, he is nice in his language and in his dress; it is rarely used of overwrought delicacy. Dainty is stronger than nice, and ranges from a commendable particularity to fastidiousness: as, to be dainty in one's choice of clothes or company; a dainty virtue. Fastidious almost always means a somewhat proud or haughty particularity; a fastidious person is hard to please, because he objects to minute points or to some point in almost everything. Squeamish is founded upon the notion of feeling nausea; hence it means fastidious to an extreme, absurdly particular.
  • Definite, rigorous, strict.
  • Accurate, Correct, Exact, etc. See accurate.
  • Luscious, savory, palatable.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. socially or conventionally correct; refined or virtuous
  • adj. done with delicacy and skill
  • n. a city in southeastern France on the Mediterranean; the leading resort on the French Riviera
  • adj. pleasant or pleasing or agreeable in nature or appearance
  • adj. excessively fastidious and easily disgusted
  • adj. exhibiting courtesy and politeness


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, foolish, from Old French, from Latin nescius, ignorant, from nescīre, to be ignorant; see nescience.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English nice, nyce, nys, from Old French nice, niche, nisce ("simple, foolish, ignorant"), from Latin nescius ("ignorant, not knowing"); compare nescire ("to know not, be ignorant of"), from ne ("not") + scire ("to know").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Name of a Unix program used to invoke a script or program with a specified priority, with the implication that running at a lower priority is "nice" (kind, etc.) because it leaves more resources for others.



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  • Writing in the late 1940s, Thomas Merton in his first memoir, The Seven-Storey Mountain, described his Aunt Maud as follows:

    "Nice, in the strict sense, and in the broad colloquial sense, was a word made for her: she was a very nice person. In a way, her pointed nose and her thin smiling lips eve suggested the expression of one who had just finished pronouncing that word. 'How nice!'"

    I'm not sure what he means by "the strict sense" - perhaps "respectable", perhaps "fastidious"; by "the broad colloquial sense", he almost certainly means "pleasant and agreeable", the way most of us use the word today.

    October 4, 2015

  • There's a bit of danger involved with the "somehow better for you" bit, though. Here's a link to a New York Times Magazine article about the need for critics: The author, Dwight Garner, says, "I’m a professional book critic, someone who is paid, week in and week out, to take some of those shots. It’s a job that mostly suits my temperament. I like people — artists and civilians — who aren’t rude or censorious but who aren’t mush-mouthed either. Since childhood I’ve been a loather of America’s feel-good, everyone-on-tiptoes culture. Give me some straight talk. Give me a little humor. Give me something real. Above all, give me an argument." (I'm not entirely sure, but that argument is probably a logical or philisophical argument, rather than a fight.) So, sure, it's possible to criticize something in such a way that it's "better for you" because maybe you can fix some flaws. But sometimes that sort of kindness seems mean. My hometown newspaper used to have a critic who'd review children's dance and theater productions. He was often right about how poor the productions were, but I can't help but wonder how many kids just stopped trying after reading his brutal reviews.

    August 21, 2012

  • Maybe it's like freshly baked white bread, and wholegrain. Both are pleasant but the latter has more nutrients.

    August 20, 2012

  • I keep running into people for whom there's a big difference between being "nice" and being "kind." I think the theory is that being "nice" just means being polite, but being "kind" means saying hard truths that might seem rude but are somehow better for you.

    August 20, 2012

  • "4. Squeamish; nice."

    --from the Century Dictionary definition for ungodly

    March 20, 2011

  • It is nice. Though you could always try somewhere nicer.

    December 21, 2009

  • I suppose I'm really not supposed to be here. Although it looks rather... uh, nice.

    December 21, 2009

  • from the old French meaning silly or stupid: in the 18th century it meant delightful and agreeable that is a meaning almost the opposite: The compass needle of its meaning gyrates wildly: see my comment below from two years ago

    September 8, 2009

  • a word which describes the accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter

    May 23, 2009

  • I prefer to make a nice distinction.

    October 3, 2008

  • ...we exchanged books with them,-- a practice very common among ships in foreign ports, by which you get rid of the books you have read and re-read, and a supply of new ones in their stead, and Jack is not very nice as to their comparative value.

    - Richard Henry Dana Jr., Two Years Before the Mast, ch. 25

    September 9, 2008

  • Good thing I'm not interested in being nice, then. What are the attributes of freaking awesome? :-)

    June 22, 2007

  • One of the attributes of nice is knowing when to keep your mouth shut. :P

    June 22, 2007

  • Italics is a nice word too. ;-)

    June 22, 2007

  • Old-school italics: <i>text goes here</i>

    New-school italics: <em>text goes here</em>

    They both look the same, but the second one is XHTML compliant, so that's what I use. Both should work on this site though.

    Having never spoken girl talk, my outsider's opinion is that all y'all must be awfully shallow and catty to one another if you depend on the word nice to have conversation.

    June 22, 2007

  • Oh, nice encompasses all the characteristics a boy requires to date your friend. I don't care about the Stepford Wives, although I would like to know how to use italics (hint hint). Girl talk simply cannot survive without nice.

    June 22, 2007

  • a fascinating word etymologically: Its meaning has turned almost 180 degrees and constantly -consistently- wa(i)vers depending on its contextual usage. It puts the "tack" in tacky

    June 22, 2007

  • If you don't think about it, this is a nice word. See?

    But if you do think about it, ugh. It's like The Stepford Wives or something. The shallowest and most deceptive compliment known to man. Evil to the core.

    December 11, 2006

  • An insidious and dismissive word.

    December 11, 2006