Monday, July 18, 2005

Today's Word: Nice

This one's a fabulous example of the evolution of meaning!

I bet you think you know what's nice! Santa knows who's naughty and nice, and so do you, right?


Nice as it was originally meant, wasn't "nice" at all!

Nice used to be a term for the overly-fastidious! It was an insult of character. A "nice" person was squeamish, and easily offended! In fact, it comes from the Middle English word for foolish, and that in turn was born from the Latin term for ignorant! To call someone nice was to suggest that they were weak or foppish!

In Shakespearian times, "nice" had an extra facet to its meaning. A nice woman was one who was being overly coy...affecting an attitude of modesty with the deliberate intention of titillation. In fact, nice was suggestive of potential wantonness!

How did it ever come to mean kind and good-natured and pleasant? I don't know, but maybe now you'll think twice about calling someone nice!



Blogger Mojo said...

"Remember," said Filmore "lest you desire to feel the bite of the guillotine, never tell people at the Renaissance Fair that their costumes look 'nice.' They have a well earned reputation for taking some things too seriously."

1:50 PM  

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