Someone told me recently that when they were writing essays at school they were told never to use the word nice. What kind of a rubbish teacher was that to say such a thing.
Probably this took place in the context of when they were asked to write an essay about what they did at the weekend, like “we had a nice trip to the seaside with Mummy and Daddy”. No doubt the teacher said “Don’t use that word! – take a whack! It’s a short, useless, unimaginative little word and will serve you no good whatsoever. It’s over-used by people who can’t be bothered to think of a better word to use and I won’t have any of your nice in MY classroom”.
Fire that teacher. Nice is good. Nice needs a break. Nice has a place, it’s just our challenge to find out how best to use Nice and that teacher failed.
Nice works well in places where other words just don’t stand up. Its brevity carries an impact that a sentence with more than one word (let alone other words with only four letters) just wouldn’t have. Nice is flexible too; it works as a positive word when something is completely fitting (Did you see that catch? Nice!) and as a negative word when it’s not (My Daughter swore at me – Nice!) . Nice is chameleon; Nice can wear sarcasm like a second skin.
And even in its benign and standard form we know exactly where we are with Nice. “She was just, well, nice…”. Its mediocrity is the linguistic equivalent of the perfect colour beige and while this may not be a desirable attribute there isn’t another word in the English language that can do this.
So let’s hear it for Nice.