26 November 2010


I wish to mount a defence for the word 'nice'. When I was at school, we were often told that 'nice' didn't really mean anything, and that we should avoid using it in creative writing. To say something was nice was not really telling the reader anything; it was lacking in passion and expressiveness.

After years of avoiding the word, having been indoctrinated against it, I decided last night that I want to reclaim it. Our tutor group organised the community worship at Westcott last night, and one of the comments I heard afterwards was that it was a really nice service. Rather than challenge the person about their lack of passionate adjectives, I found that I really appreciated the comment. I think we'd inadvertently planned the service to be 'nice'. Creative use of lighting, simple yet wonderful music, a good preacher and a celebrant who beautifully sang the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer all made for a really nice atmosphere where I think people felt at home.

I think the mistake my English teacher may have made (many moons ago) was to assume that words like 'nice', 'great', 'superb', outstanding', 'terrible' and 'dreadful' are points along a single axis; that they are simply expressions of different quantities of goodness or badness. (She may, of course, have made the mistake of assuming that what she said in class would not be remembered by her students many years later.) My point is that the word 'nice' is on its own axis, and to describe something as nice can be the most appropriate description we can choose.


  1. I think you're nice. And so does LittleLanky!

  2. I couldn't agree more - I think it is a very underated word. (also think all three of you are nice)
    Enjoying your very nice blog

  3. I guess I'm a lot older than you and I remember being called lazy for using the word "nice." Absolutely agree with you, it is extremely nice to be told a service was very nice!

  4. I am one with you on this - I used to despise the word 'lovely' until two weeks ago when a student said of me 'the lecturer was lovely'.
    Nice and lovely - two great descriptive adjectives!

  5. Teachers still do it. Even nice ones. I very recently tried to ask one to defend their reasoning and, well, that was a nice little conversation.