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See also: Nice, NICE, and -nice


Alternative forms[edit]

  • nyc (non-standard)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English nyce, nice, nys, borrowed 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).



nice (comparative nicer, superlative nicest)

  1. (obsolete) Silly, ignorant; foolish. [14th-17th c.]
  2. (now rare) Particular in one's conduct; scrupulous, painstaking; choosy. [from 14th c.]
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
      Mr Blifil, I am confident, understands himself better than to think of seeing my niece any more this morning, after what hath happened. Women are of a nice contexture; and our spirits, when disordered, are not to be recomposed in a moment.
    • 1603, John Florio, transl.; Michel de Montaigne, Essayes, printed at London: Edward Blount, OCLC 946730821:
      , II.2:
      There is nothing he seemed to be more carefull of than of his honesty, and observe a kinde of decencie of his person, and orderly decorum in his habits, were it on foot or on horsebacke. He was exceeding nice in performing his word or promise.
    • 1999, Joyce Crick, translating Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Oxford 2008, p.83:
      But if I dispense with the dreams of neurotics, my main material, I cannot be too nice [transl. wählerisch] in my dealings with the remainder.
  3. (obsolete) Particular as regards rules or qualities; strict. [16th-19th c.]
    • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma, volume II, chapter 14:
      “Well, my dear,” he deliberately began, “considering we never saw her before, she seems a very pretty sort of young lady; and I dare say she was very much pleased with you. She speaks a little too quick. A little quickness of voice there is which rather hurts the ear. But I believe I am nice; I do not like strange voices; and nobody speaks like you and poor Miss Taylor. ..."
    • 1818, Jane Austen, Persuasion, chapter 16:
      "Good company requires only birth, education and manners, and with regard to education is not very nice. Birth and good manners are essential."
  4. Showing or requiring great precision or sensitive discernment; subtle. [from 16th c.]
    • 1914: Saki, Laura:
      "It's her own funeral, you know," said Sir Lulworth; "it's a nice point in etiquette how far one ought to show respect to one's own mortal remains."
    • 1974, Lawrence Durrell, Monsieur, Faber & Faber 1992, p.131:
      It would be a nice theological point to try and establish whether Ophis os Moslem or gnostic.
    • 2006, Clive James, North Face of Soho, Picador 2007, p.242:
      Why it should have attained such longevity is a nice question.
  5. (obsolete) Doubtful, as to the outcome; risky. [16th-19th c.]
    • 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, IV.1:
      To set so rich a maine / On the nice hazard of one doubtfull houre? It were not good.
    • 1822, T. Creevey, Reminiscences, 28 Jul.:
      It has been a damned nice thing - the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.
  6. Respectable; virtuous. [from 18th c.]
    What is a nice person like you doing in a place like this?
  7. Pleasant, satisfactory. [from 18th c.]
    • 1998, Baha Men - Who Let the Dogs Out?
      When the party was nice, the party was jumpin' (Hey, Yippie, Yi, Yo)
    • 2008, Rachel Cooke, The Guardian, 20 Apr.:
      "What's difficult is when you think someone is saying something nice about you, but you're not quite sure."
  8. Of a person: friendly, attractive. [from 18th c.]
  9. With "and", shows that the given adjective is desirable: pleasantly. [from 18th c.]
    The soup is nice and hot.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 8, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      We toted in the wood and got the fire going nice and comfortable. Lord James still set in one of the chairs and Applegate had cabbaged the other and was hugging the stove.
Usage notes[edit]

Sometimes used sarcastically to mean the opposite or to connote excess.

  • 1710, Jonathan Swift, The Examiner No. XIV
    I have strictly observed this rule, and my imagination this minute represents before me a certain great man famous for this talent, to the constant practice of which he owes his twenty years’ reputation of the most skilful head in England, for the management of nice affairs.
  • 1930, H.M. Walker, The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case
    Here's another nice mess you've gotten us into.
  • 1973, Cockerel Chorus, Nice One, Cyril!
    Nice one, Cyril!
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


nice (comparative nicer, superlative nicest)

  1. (colloquial) Nicely.
    Children, play nice.
    He dresses real nice.



  1. Used to signify a job well done.
    Nice! I couldn't have done better.
  2. Used to signify approval.
    Is that your new car? Nice!

Etymology 2[edit]

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.


nice (third-person singular simple present nices, present participle nicing, simple past and past participle niced)

  1. (transitive, computing, Unix) To run a process with a specified (usually lower) priority.
Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]






  1. inflection of nika:
    1. dative singular
    2. locative singular




From Ottoman Turkish نيچه (nice, how much), from Proto-Turkic *nēče, equative form of *nē (what). See ne (what), cognate to Karakhanid ناجا (nēčē, how much).



nice (comparative daha nice, superlative en nice)

  1. many