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Main Entry: nice
Etymology: Middle English nice "foolish, stupid," from early French nice (same meaning), from Latin nescius "ignorant," from nescire "not to know," from ne- "not" and scire "to know" --related to SCIENCE 1: finicky in tastes or habits 2 a: not obvious : SUBTLE <a nice distinction> b: having the ability to notice small differences <a nice ear for music> 3: PLEASING, AGREEABLE <a nice time> <a nice person> 4: well behaved : RESPECTABLE <wasn't a nice thing to do> - nice·lyadverb - nice·nessnoun Word History Five hundred years ago, when nice was first used in English, it meant "foolish or stupid." This is not as surprising as it may seem, since it came through early French from the Latin nescius, meaning "ignorant." By the 16th century, the sense of being "very particular" or "finicky" had developed. In the 19th century, nice came to mean "pleasant or agreeable" and then "respectable," a sense quite unlike its original meaning.