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I came across the descriptions of badges in this Q&A site, and was curious about which word weighs more, "good" or "nice"?

Here are the two descriptions that interested me:

"Good Answer": Question score of 25 or more.

"Nice Answer": Question score of 10 or more.

Seems like "good" weighs more than "nice", will that always be the case? "a good person" will be a little better than "a nice person"?

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To me, "good person" and "nice person" have different connotations and are used for different situations rather than one having more weight than the other. However, I think that "nice answer" is stronger than "good answer". –  Peter Olson May 20 '11 at 4:06
    
@Peter, I have the same feeling. Also I think that "nice job" carries more weight than "good job". –  Jamie May 20 '11 at 4:20
    
Aside, I'm also a bit curious if the word "weight" is correctly used in this question as opposed to "weigh". New idea for the site: Ability to create question forks in comments! :D –  Wesley Murch May 20 '11 at 4:45
    
@Wesley, you are right, edited. –  Jamie May 20 '11 at 4:57
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"Nice answer" would carry MUCH more weight if you used the "Showing or requiring great precision or sensitive discernment; subtle" definition of the word. –  JeffSahol May 20 '11 at 15:50
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5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Nice in nice answer means (as reported from the NOAD) "pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory."
Good in good answer could mean

  • pleasing and welcome
  • obedient to rules or conventions
  • having the required qualities
  • giving pleasure; enjoyable or satisfying

There is a partial overlap between the meaning of nice and good, but (for example) nice is not used when referring to something that follow some rules or convention, or to something that have the required qualities.

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To me, this is a 'good' answer! So "nice job" should not be used at all since jobs will generally require qualities, or at least carries less weight than "good job"? –  Jamie May 20 '11 at 5:01
    
@Jamie I usually understand nice job as satisfactory job, and good job as well done job. In those phrases, I give to nice a less positive meaning, as to mean "you could have done better, but it is fine as it is." –  kiamlaluno May 20 '11 at 5:37
    
Oh, first time I know that there are so many tiny differences between the two. Good explanation! –  Jamie May 20 '11 at 5:41
    
@Jamie To notice also that "it's nice of you to help me" has a different meaning than "it's good for you to help me." –  kiamlaluno May 20 '11 at 5:54
    
@kiaml, "nice of you" is saying the personality of you while "good for you" is saying the benefit you could get. Am I getting them right? –  Jamie May 21 '11 at 0:22
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In my point of view both are used interchangeably in speech rather than in writing. Good refers to moral, personality, virtue (inside qualities) and Nice refers to impressions (outside qualities).

That why when we meet someone for the first time we normally say: nice to meet you, and when one does or provides an acceptable service we normally say: he/she is good at..., e.g:

he is good at drawing
he does very nice drawings

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I think there's some completely unjustified mixing of contexts going on here. This isn't a general debate on what these words mean; it's about a ranking order for them in one specific context.

It just so happens that in the EL&U 'scoring' hierarchy, the word good is used for a higher grade than nice. And great is even better than good.

Well, actually, I don't think it does exactly just so happen. If I had to rank those three words for EL&U scoring, I would definitely put them in ascending order nice -> good -> great. And I bet most people would choose that order, so it's not just me.

And if they had cute in the hierarchy, I'd put that lowest.

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I think it depends on the context.

For example, if I use sarcasm, both 'Good job' or 'Nice job' wouldn't sound too good.

Also if I emphasize how good or nice something is, then it would definitely sound better.

"That was such a nice movie!"

"That was such a good movie!"

Now which of these two would leave a more positive impression would be dependent on the reader/listener

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True, all the meanings depend on the recipient's taste eventually, but I was trying to know the general usage. I guess that your sarcasm theory could solve most of the meaning questions in this site. –  Jamie May 21 '11 at 0:36
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I think it depends on the context. In those examples, there's not much to go on. I agree that it's not very clear which is supposed to be better.

I personally would think that IF one weighs more than the other (which I don't think there's a clear cut answer for), "nice" would generally be on top slightly.

Example of nice sounding "better" than good:

  • That's a nice car.
  • That's a good car.

"Nice" gives me the impression that the car is exceptional, while "good" gives the impression that the car is simply solid or reliable, or maybe just acceptable.

However, sometimes nice means "quaint" while good means "excellent".

  • That was a good movie.
  • That was a nice movie.

To me, "good" now has more weight — it's almost the exact opposite. "Good" means the movie was very enjoyable (would watch again), while "nice" means it was only fairly enjoyable (might not watch again).

This is of course just my personal interpretation.

Conclusion: Good question. Of course, the meaning is quite different when we talk about people (Good may mean "does good deeds", while nice may mean "pleasant"). You can be evil and nice at the same time. However, I think in the context you put it the meaning is quite ambiguous. "Good Answer" and "Great Answer" would be much clearer.

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'nice' answer(hope 'nice' will weight more than 'good' in this specific context). –  Jamie May 20 '11 at 4:37
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