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[nahy-si-tee] /ˈnaɪ sɪ ti/
noun, plural niceties.
a delicate or fine point; punctilio:
niceties of protocol.
a fine distinction; subtlety; detail:
the niceties of the filigree work.
Usually, niceties. a refined, elegant, or choice feature, as of manner or living:
working hard to acquire the niceties of life.
exactness or precision.
the quality of being nice; niceness.
delicacy of character, as of something requiring care or tact:
a matter of considerable nicety.
Origin of nicety
1275-1325; Middle English: silliness, extravagance, cleverness < Old French niceté. See nice, -ty2
Related forms
overnicety, noun, plural overniceties.
Can be confused
nice, niceness, nicety. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for nicety
Historical Examples
  • She had laid her own plans with too great a nicety and felt perfectly sure of the ultimate result of their action.

    Halcyone Elinor Glyn
  • The latter had a special arrangement by which they could be levelled to a nicety.

    An Explorer's Adventures in Tibet A. Henry Savage Landor
  • "I reckon the jig's up," remarked Mr. Cassidy, balancing the up-raised Colt with nicety and indifference.

    Bar-20 Days Clarence E. Mulford
  • Ellis was with me, and declares that Hayden has touched me off to a nicety.

    Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay George Otto Trevelyan
  • Then with a sharp penknife or scissors, cut it out with great care and nicety.

  • She was a perfect shot; and her 46-pound bow suited her to a nicety.

  • With the utmost care and nicety he adjusted the timepieces so that they did not vary, one from the other, by a single second.

    Chance in Chains Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • Besides, if it comes to giving a receipt, I can imitate your signature to a nicety.

    The Dew of Their Youth S. R. Crockett
  • The block was fitted into its place with a nicety that certified to the skill of the hand that had adjusted it.

    The House of a Thousand Candles Meredith Nicholson
  • Our artillery fire had now reached a nicety of deadly accuracy.

British Dictionary definitions for nicety


noun (pl) -ties
a subtle point of delicacy or distinction: a nicety of etiquette
(usually pl) a refinement or delicacy: the niceties of first-class travel
subtlety, delicacy, or precision
excessive refinement; fastidiousness
to a nicety, with precision
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 nicety

mid-14c., "folly, stupidity," from Old French niceté "foolishness, childishness, simplicity," from nice "silly" (see nice). Underwent sense evolution parallel to nice, arriving at "minute, subtle point" 1580s and "exactitude" in 1650s. Phrase to a nicety "exactly" is attested from 1795.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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