Fillers Endpiece

When I use a word … nice?

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 18 March 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:750

Nice—a complimentary acronym you might think. But it originally meant stupid (Latin nescius) and later wanton, strange, lazy, unwilling, or fastidious. By the 16th century it came to mean precise and accurate, but other meanings included slender, trivial, uncertain, and delicate. Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary(1959 edition) lists among possible meanings “calling for very fine discrimination”; “done with great care and exactness”; “accurate”; and then puts the boot in: “used in vague commendation by those who are not nice.”


  • Submitted by Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist, Oxford

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