How Nice Has Changed

From Webster’s 1828:

Nice
NICE, adjective [G. To eat dainties or sweetmeats]

1. Properly, soft; whence, delicate; tender; dainty; sweet or very pleasant to the taste; as a nice bit; nice food.

2. Delicate; fine; applied to texture, composition or color; as cloth of a nice texture; nice tints of color.

3. Accurate; exact; precise; as nice proportions; nice symmetry; nice workmanship; nice rules.

4. Requiring scrupulous exactness; as a nice point.

5. Perceiving the smallest difference; distinguishing accurately and minutely by perception; as a person of nice taste; hence,

6. Perceiving accurately the smallest faults, errors or irregularities; distinguishing and judging with exactness; as a nice judge of a subject; nice discernment.

Our author happy in a judge so nice

7. Over scrupulous or exact.

Curious, not knowing; not exact, but nice

8. Delicate; scrupulously and minutely cautious.

The letter was not nice but full of charge of dear import.

Dear love, continue nice and chaste.

9. Fastidious; squeamish.

And to taste, think not I shall be nice

10. Delicate; easily injured.

How nice the reputation of the maid!

11. Refined; as nice and subtle happiness.

12. Having lucky hits. [Not used.]

13. Weak; foolish; effeminate.

14. Trivial; unimportant.

To make nice to be scrupulous.

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2 Comments

  1. Lisa Beth W.
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    OH, for the good old days. Sigh…I do love nice language.

  2. Frances
    Posted June 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    And of course Mr Tilney’s comment on “a nice book”!

    I came across “nasty” usage in a Victorian children’s story, remonstrating that although a girl in question might be disagreeable she was perfectly neat and clean and should not be described as “nasty”.

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