Daily Prompt: Nice is as Nice Does (thank you, Martha)

Tell us about the nicest thing you’ve ever done.

While I am happy to tell you that I think the nicest thing I have ever done (and continue to do)  is to not sing in public, casting around for something to say about today’s prompt, I came across Thank you, Masked Man, and couldn’t agree more with what Martha Ann says (thank you masked woman). 

For me the essence of being nice, in the context of this prompt, is just be nice for God’s sake, don’t go looking for kudos as well.  As Martha pointed out, recent Daily Prompts have been, well, an invitation for “selfies” –  and although writing about a subject you know well (and hopefully, we all do  know ourselves well), is good practice, blogging about yourself day after day is not going to be all that riveting for your readers.  However, you could challenge yourself more by responding to the prompt with something unexpected, or at least a less obvious response.

Something to think about –  saying you have done something “nice” may not be the best admission you could make about yourself.  Here are some definitions as  found in the Online Etymology Dictionary:

nice (adj.)

late 13c., “foolish, stupid, senseless,” from Old French nice (12c.) “careless, clumsy; weak; poor, needy; simple, stupid, silly, foolish,” from Latin nescius “ignorant, unaware,” literally “not-knowing,” from ne- “not” (see un-) + stem of scire “to know” (see science). “The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj.” [Weekley] — from “timid” (pre-1300); to “fussy, fastidious” (late 14c.); to “dainty, delicate” (c.1400); to “precise, careful” (1500s, preserved in such terms as a nice distinction and nice and early); to “agreeable, delightful” (1769); to “kind, thoughtful” (1830).

“In many examples from the 16th and 17th centuries it is difficult to say in what particular sense the writer intended it to be taken.” [OED]

By 1926, it was pronounced “too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness.” [Fowler]

“I am sure,” cried Catherine, “I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should I not call it so?”
“Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything.” [Jane Austen, “Northanger Abbey,” 1803]

nicety (n.)

mid-14c., “folly, stupidity,” from Old French niceté “foolishness, childishness, simplicity,” from nice “silly” (see nice). Underwent sense evolution parallel to nice, arriving at “minute, subtle point” 1580s and “exactitude” in 1650s. Phrase to a nicety “exactly” is attested from 1795.

niceness (n.)

1520s, “folly, foolish behavior,” from nice + -ness. Meaning “exactness” is from 1670s; that of “pleasantness” is from 1809.

nicely (adv.)

early 14c., “foolishly,” from nice + -ly (2). From c.1600 as “scrupulously;” 1714 as “in an agreeable fashion.”



Daily Prompt: Nice Is as Nice Does – Picture of Hugh Laurie as the “nice” George IV from Cache


10 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Nice is as Nice Does (thank you, Martha)”

  1. Thanks for reading my blog and for the reference and most of all for this very NICE (meaning wise and entertaining) post!

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