I (and my family) use the word 'nice' in a very particular way which I seem to have trouble conveying to other people; so I've come here to see if there is anything remotely analogous.

I describe myself as "not a nice person", and that I'm " not particularly fond of nice people". By that I don't mean I'm unkind, nasty or bad natured, but that I'm just not... Nice?

I think it's illustrative of what I mean to say that a 'nice' person pities a bad situation, whereas a 'kind' or 'good' person offers help; a 'nice' person avoids conflict at all cost, whereas a 'kind' person will rock the boat for a good cause.

I feel my distinction of this niceness/kindness separation isn't unique to my circle, but I can't find it documented or described anywhere in dictionaries. Is this something that exists? Are there any better words for it? How can I eloquently explain this distinct meaning of the word?

  • 7
    You are reading a lot into your idiosyncratic version of nice. Nothing wrong with that, but don't expect strangers to share your special understanding. – Robusto Jul 27 '15 at 14:33
  • 1
    "nice" is one of those words that can convey different meanings depending on context and intonation. What's a nice umbrella? A beautiful umbrella? A practical umbrella? What's "a nice guy" in "Here is a real nice guy" What you may think of "a nice guy" may be different from what I think. POB. One's man meat is another man's poison. :-) – Centaurus Jul 27 '15 at 14:35
  • You could try to find a better label for the kind of person you wish to describe, but it's probable that there isn't one that encapsulates all the meanings you've piled together. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jul 27 '15 at 14:48
  • I've always thought of "nice" as namby-pamby. (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/namby-pamby: too weak or gentle : not strong or strict enough) . There's nothing in the quick scan of on-line dictionaries I did to support that. I remember reading a diatribe against the word "nice" long ago, but I can't remember who wrote it. The tenor was that it had become meaningless, except in the use of "a nice distinction." – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Jul 27 '15 at 19:51

I understand the distinction.

A nice person is passive; a kind person is active. Maybe you could explain it as simply as that.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.