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From *nift +‎ -y. First element is of unknown origin. Possibly theatrical slang, as a shortened, altered form of Magnificat.


  • IPA(key): /ˈnɪfti/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪfti


nifty (comparative niftier, superlative niftiest)

  1. (colloquial, somewhat dated) Good, smart; useful or beneficial.
    a nifty trick for reducing your household energy bill
  2. (colloquial, somewhat dated) Stylish.
    nifty gear
    You look nifty in that jacket.
    • 1933, Stella Blum, Everyday Fashion of the Thirties as pictured in Sears Catalogs, published 1986, page 56:
      The niftiest, snappiest slacks you ever saw!

Derived terms[edit]



nifty (plural nifties)

  1. (colloquial, dated) A possibly risqué comic story or anecdote.
    • 1929, Air Wonder Stories:
      New subscribers are the life of our party (any advertiser will tell you that) just as the regular reader of CLIPPINGS becomes the life of any party (and why not with such a supply of “nifties” and bon mots).
    • 1950 April 8, Billboard, page 146:
      Because some of the stories that the Sultana told are nifties, the plays are sometimes edited. This facilitates production and eliminates a lot of questions from the kids when they get home.
    • 2011, Amnon Kabatchnik, Blood on the Stage, 1950-1975, page 580:
      “Miss Fletcher knows exactly what she is doing, goes about her business with gratifying swiftness and comes up with a finish worthy of one of Roald Dahl's little nifties,” wrote Douglas Watt.