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“Nice” Hasn’t Always Been Nice

Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • evolve: to change over time
  • drastic: very noticeable; extreme
  • appealing: likeable
  • satisfactory: acceptable
  • sarcastic: not sincere; opposite of one’s true feelings
  • tasteful: having an appropriate sense of style or fashion
  • cliché: too expected or common; lacking in originality

“Nice” Hasn’t Always Been Nice

The meaning of a word often evolves . Some word meanings change more drastically than others. The word “nice” has a number of meanings, including appealing, kind, or satisfactory. The same word is used sarcastically to mean . For example, you will often hear someone exclaim, “Nice!” when their true reaction is that something is rude, bad, or gross. This sarcastic use of the word “nice” is similar to Latin origin. The Latin word “nescius” means ignorant. By the thirteenth century people were using the word “nice” to mean foolish, senseless, or clumsy. Its meaning then evolved to mean shy and later tasteful. By the late , expressions with “nice” in a sense became common. Today the word “nice” is so common that it is often considered cliché.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What Latin word did the word “nice” originate from, and what did it mean?
  2. What does “nice” mean when it is used sarcastically?
  3. How is the word “nice” viewed these days?

Discussion Questions: What English expressions can you think of that have the word “nice” in them? Can you think of a more descriptive way of expressing the same thought?

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