Nice, from the Latin nescius, meaning ‘ignorant’

The things I find while going through old office items…

The Red Pencil
Washington Post
Friday, April 2, 1999; Page C09

Q: Do you know the original meaning of the word “nice”?

A: I learned the history of “nice” while in graduate school at Stanford. One of my professors took me aside and cautioned, “Nice guys finish last.” My response? I should take his advice as best I could. As part of my rehab, I researched the word “nice.” After all, if I was too nice, I ought to learn its complete meaning. I discovered that It originated with the Latin adjective nescius, “ignorant,” which accounts for its early English meaning of “ignorant.” With that in mind, I resolved to learn much more than I had. That way I’d never finish last.

© 1999 Redgate /
© 1999 The Washington Post Company

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