NICE!

“Of all the words in the English language, few have more varied careers than nice…


(from the Vocabula Review)
“Its meaning has altered more often than that of most other words, and it has always borne several different meanings simultaneously. It was once a verbal chameleon, whose instability might have threatened its survival; it is now much overworked and has sunk to the verbal equivalent of a food extender, or flavoring-101.”

The fifteen principal definitions of ‘nice’ in the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition:

1. foolish, stupid, senseless ~ 1290 to 1560

2. wanton, loose-mannered, lascivious ~ 1325 to 1606
(of dress) extravagant, flaunting ~ 1430 to 1540
very trim, elegant, or smart ~ 1483 to 1540

3. strange, rare, uncommon ~ 1430 to 1555

4. slothful, lazy, indolent ~ 1440 to 1604
effeminate, unmanly ~ 1573 to 1681
tender, delicate ~ 1562 to 1710
over-refined, luxurious ~ 1621 to 1720

5. coy, shy, affectedly modest ~ 1400 to 1634
reluctant, unwilling ~ 1560 to 1676

6. to make it nice to display reserve or reluctance; to make a scruple ~ 1530 to 1677

7. fastidious, dainty, difficult to please in matters of food or cleanliness; refined ~ 1551 to 1782
particular, precise, strict ~ 1584 to 1861
fastidious in matters of literary taste ~ 1628 to 1770
precise of strict in matters of reputation or conduct; punctilious, scrupulous, sensitive ~ 1647 to 1887
refined, cultured ~ 1603 to 1874

8. requiring or involving great precision, accuracy, or minuteness ~ 1513 to 1840

9. not obvious or readily apprehended; difficult to decide ~ 1513 to 1885
minute, subtle ~ 1561 to 1870
precise, exact, fine ~ 1710 to 1867

10. slender, thin ~ 1590 to 1604
unimportant, trivial ~ 1592 to 1601

11. critical, doubtful, full of danger or uncertainty ~ 1596 to 1682
delicate, needing tactful handling ~ 1617 to 1777

12. entering minutely into detail, attentive, close ~ 1589 to 1864
(of the senses) able to distinguish or discriminate in a high degree ~ 1586 to 1873
(of judgment) finely discriminative ~ 1597 to 1845
delicate or skilful in manipulation ~ 1711 to 1807

13. minutely or carefully accurate ~ 1599 to 1875

14. (of food) dainty, appetizing (especially of a cup of tea!) ~ 1712 to 1974

15. agreeable, a source of pleasure or satisfaction ~ 1796 to 1975

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