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[nahys] /naɪs/
adjective, nicer, nicest.
pleasing; agreeable; delightful:
a nice visit.
amiably pleasant; kind:
They are always nice to strangers.
characterized by, showing, or requiring great accuracy, precision, skill, tact, care, or delicacy:
nice workmanship; a nice shot; a nice handling of a crisis.
showing or indicating very small differences; minutely accurate, as instruments:
a job that requires nice measurements.
minute, fine, or subtle:
a nice distinction.
having or showing delicate, accurate perception:
a nice sense of color.
refined in manners, language, etc.:
Nice people wouldn't do such things.
virtuous; respectable; decorous:
a nice girl.
suitable or proper:
That was not a nice remark.
carefully neat in dress, habits, etc.
(especially of food) dainty or delicate.
having fastidious, finicky, or fussy tastes:
They're much too nice in their dining habits to enjoy an outdoor barbecue.
Obsolete. coy, shy, or reluctant.
Obsolete. unimportant; trivial.
Obsolete. wanton.
make nice, to behave in a friendly, ingratiating, or conciliatory manner.
nice and, sufficiently:
It's nice and warm in here.
Origin of nice
1250-1300; Middle English: foolish, stupid < Old French: silly, simple < Latin nescius ignorant, incapable, equivalent to ne- negative prefix + sci- (stem of scīre to know; see science) + -us adj. suffix
Related forms
nicely, adverb
niceness, noun
overnice, adjective
overnicely, adverb
overniceness, noun
unnice, adjective
unnicely, adverb
unniceness, noun
Can be confused
nice, niceness, nicety.
nice, Nice.
gneiss, nice (see usage note at the current entry)
2. friendly. 3. delicate, exact, exacting, critical, scrupulous, discriminating, discerning, particular. 7. polite. 10, 12. finical.
1. unpleasant. 2. unkind. 3. careless. 9. improper.
Usage note
The semantic history of nice is quite varied, as the etymology and the obsolete senses attest, and any attempt to insist on only one of its present senses as correct will not be in keeping with the facts of actual usage. If any criticism is valid, it might be that the word is used too often and has become a cliché lacking the qualities of precision and intensity that are embodied in many of its synonyms.


[nees] /nis/
a port in and the capital of Alpes-Maritimes, in SE France, on the Mediterranean: resort.
Can be confused
nice, Nice.


[alp-ma-ree-teem] /alp ma riˈtim/
a department in SE France. 1527 sq. mi. (3955 sq. km).
Capital: Nice. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for nice
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I had laid my plans carefully, and I had expected to reap a nice harvest.

    The Long Voyage Carl Richard Jacobi
  • I want to take this knife, this nice, sharp knife that I have been grinding for him.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • He says it is something about Paul, and that it is not nice, and that papa would not like me to know it.

    Paul Patoff F. Marion Crawford
  • She's not good looking, and yet she's so nice everyone's crazy about her.

    Tutors' Lane Wilmarth Lewis
  • Rose gave Phebe some of her nice things, and it was very good of her.

    Eight Cousins Louisa M. Alcott
British Dictionary definitions for nice


pleasant or commendable: a nice day
kind or friendly: a nice gesture of help
good or satisfactory: they made a nice job of it
subtle, delicate, or discriminating: a nice point in the argument
precise; skilful: a nice fit
(rare) fastidious; respectable: he was not too nice about his methods
  1. foolish or ignorant
  2. delicate
  3. shy; modest
  4. wanton
nice and, pleasingly: it's nice and cool
Derived Forms
nicely, adverb
niceness, noun
nicish, adjective
Word Origin
C13 (originally: foolish): from Old French nice simple, silly, from Latin nescius ignorant, from nescīre to be ignorant; see nescience


/French nis/
a city in SE France, on the Mediterranean: a leading resort of the French Riviera; founded by Phocaeans from Marseille in about the 3rd century bc. Pop: 342 738 (1999)


noun acronym
(in Britain) National Institute for Clinical Excellence: a body established in 1999 to provide authoritative guidance on current best practice in medicine and to promote high-quality cost-effective medical treatment in the NHS


/French alp maritim/
a department of the SE corner of France in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region. Capital: Nice. Pop: 1 045 973 (2003 est). Area: 4298 sq km (1676 sq miles)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nice

late 13c., "foolish, stupid, senseless," from Old French nice (12c.) "careless, clumsy; weak; poor, needy; simple, stupid, silly, foolish," from Latin nescius "ignorant, unaware," literally "not-knowing," from ne- "not" (see un-) + stem of scire "to know" (see science). "The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj." [Weekley] -- from "timid" (pre-1300); to "fussy, fastidious" (late 14c.); to "dainty, delicate" (c.1400); to "precise, careful" (1500s, preserved in such terms as a nice distinction and nice and early); to "agreeable, delightful" (1769); to "kind, thoughtful" (1830).

"In many examples from the 16th and 17th centuries it is difficult to say in what particular sense the writer intended it to be taken." [OED]
By 1926, it was pronounced "too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness." [Fowler]
"I am sure," cried Catherine, "I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should I not call it so?"
"Very true," said Henry, "and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything." [Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey," 1803]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nice in Culture
Nice [(nees)]

City in southeastern France on the Mediterranean Sea.

Note: Nice is the most famous resort of the French Riviera.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for nice


Related Terms

make nice

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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nice in Technology

The Nonprofit International Consortium for Eiffel.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for nice


National Institute for Consumer Education
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

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