Definitions

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

  • n. The quality of showing or requiring careful, precise treatment: the nicety of a diplomatic exchange.
  • n. Delicacy of character or feeling; fastidiousness; scrupulousness.
  • n. A fine point, small detail, or subtle distinction: the niceties of etiquette.
  • n. An elegant or refined feature; an amenity: the niceties of civilized life.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small detail that is nice or polite to have but isn't necessary.
  • n. Subtlety or precision of use.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The quality or state of being nice (in any of the senses of that word.).
  • n. Delicacy or exactness of perception; minuteness of observation or of discrimination; precision.
  • n. A delicate expression, act, mode of treatment, distinction, or the like; a minute distinction.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Ignorance; folly; foolishness; triviality.
  • n. Fastidiousness; extreme or excessive delicacy; squeamishness.
  • n. Nice discrimination; delicacy of perception; acuteness.
  • n. A nice distinction; a refinement; a subtlety; a fine-drawn point or criticism.
  • n. Delicacy; exactness; accuracy; precision.
  • n. A dainty or delicacy; something rare or choice: usually in the plural.
  • n. Nice appearance; agreeableness of appearance

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

  • n. conformity with some esthetic standard of correctness or propriety
  • n. a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude

Etymologies

Middle English nicete, silliness, exactitude, from Old French, silliness, from nice, silly; see nice.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English nicetee, from Old French niceté ("simpleness, foolishness"), from nice ("simple, foolish"); see nice. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • That kind of diplomatic nicety from the Russians was so surprising that Clay immediately sent a “Confidential” cable to Washington saying: “Soviet courtesy of this type is so unusual that I attach significance to it as a possible preliminary move to a settlement which would be intended to prevent West German government.”

    Daring Young Men

  • Note: All this scrupulous nicety is at variance with the decision of St. Paul about meat offered to idols, 1 Cor. x.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • “To a nicety, that is my opinion, now that you put it so clearly, sir.”

    Mary Anerley

  • Then comes the difficult task of felling the trees between the rows of coffee, a work of great nicety, which is partly effected by the final stroke of the axe, and partly by hauling a rope attached to the top of the tree.

    Gold, Sport, and Coffee Planting in Mysore

  • "To a nicety, that is my opinion, now that you put it so clearly, sir."

    Mary Anerley : a Yorkshire Tale

  • One thing that may or may not be a nicety is the Organizer, which keeps a list of projects, code repositories, and iOS devices for testing.

    Ars Technica

  • Another nicety is the way that it holds the iPad itself.

    Gear Live

  • Another nicety is the brand's Magic Motion zapper.

    Crave at CNET UK

  • But, Fenty said, no "nicety" would have convinced the council to extend the program.

    Fenty pledges to 'change some things' in TV debate

  • AMERICAblog News| A great nation deserves the truth: Lindsey Graham: Bush admin saw law as unaffordable 'nicety'

    Lindsey Graham: Bush admin saw law as unaffordable 'nicety'

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