Nice – the word that sends English teachers and editors across the country into a tailspin. If I ever attempted to use ‘nice’ in a piece of writing at school, it was underlined in squiggly red pen with an aggressive “Carrie, please think of an alternative word”. I was repeatedly told that it’s a nothing word, no flavour, no flair. But I still love it.
There are a few clear reasons. Firstly, I’ve never been a fan of flowery language, I find excessive descriptions and hyperbole irritating. I’m a ‘say what you mean’ and ‘mean what you say’ person – and I think this is the same for writing. Ever clicked through synonyms on Word to try to make yourself sound more intelligent and ended up sounding ridiculous?
Imagine handing your colleague a coffee and them saying “thank you for a delectable, mouth-watering, culinary experience”. You’d stare in horror. “Nice coffee – thanks” would feel much more comfortable. And I can’t imagine swapping it out in the phrase “nice to meet you” – “thrilled to meet you”, “flabbergasted to meet you”, no thanks.
Nice is also a word with a great degree of flexibility. Its meaning can completely change depending on the delivery, facial expression, whether you pause before you say it. An eyebrow raise accompanied by a ‘nice’ as you notice your dog has left a shit on the carpet is completely different to a ‘nice’ with an extended ‘iii’ when you watch your team score from a free kick.
It also has its place in pop culture – ever sung along to ‘have a nice day’ by Stereophonics, ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ by the Beach Boys? These songs wouldn’t be so iconic without the humble ‘nice’.
I’m not suggesting ‘nice’ is the best word for every article, novel, whitepaper – but I think we need to stop the hate on the simpler words. It’s not nice.