NICE, an adjective which in present usage has two main meanings: (I) fastidious, particular, precise or scrupulous, and (2) pleasant, kind or agreeable. The first meaning has been common since the 16th century, the second only since the end of the 18th. In O. Fr., from which the English form was adapted, the word is niche or nice, which are derivatives of Lat. nescius, not knowing, ignorant. The development in meaning is doubtful; some authorities take it as (I) foolish, (2) foolishly precise, (3) delicate, (4) pleasant. Skeat suggests an early confusion with the word "nesh," soft, delicate, still surviving dialectically.
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