Mediterranean seaport of France, ceded to France in 1860 by Sardinia; ancient Nicaea, from Greek nikaios "victorious," from nikē "victory" (see Nike). Nizzard "a resident of Nice" is from Nizza, the Italian form of the city name.
late 13c., "foolish, ignorant, frivolous, 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" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + stem of scire "to know" (see science). "The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj." [Weekley] -- from "timid, faint-hearted" (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]
late 14c., nicete, "folly, stupidity," a sense now obsolete, from Old French niceté "foolishness, childishness, simplicity," from nice "silly" (see nice). It underwent a sense evolution parallel to that of nice, arriving at "minute, subtle point" 1580s and "exactitude, accuracy" in 1650s. Phrase to a nicety "exactly, with great exactness" is attested from 1795.
c. 1200, "mild, well-mannered," Old English gedæfte "gentle, becoming," from Proto-Germanic *gadaftjaz (source also of Old English daeftan "to put in order, arrange," gedafen "suitable;" Gothic gadaban "to be fit"), from *dab-, which has no certain IE etymology and is perhaps a substratum word.
Sense deteriorated to "dull, awkward, uncouth, boorish" (c. 1300), perhaps via the notion of "humble." Further evolution to "foolish, simple, stupid" (mid-15c.) and "crazy" (1530s) probably was influenced by analogy with daffe "halfwit, fool, idiot" (see daffy); the whole group probably has a common origin. For sense evolution, compare nice, silly. Related: Daftly; daftness.
c. 1200, "decent, suitable, proper to the time, place, circumstances, or persons;" late 14c., "handsome, fair, graceful, pleasing in appearance" (of a man, woman, or thing), probably from Old English cymlic "lovely, splendid, finely made," from cyme "exquisite, glorious, delicate," which is apparently from West Germanic *kumi- "delicate, feeble" (source also of Old High German chumo "with difficulty," chumig "weak, delicate;" German kaum "hardly, scarcely"). OED compares the sense range of nice.
Or perhaps the modern word is from Middle English bicumelic (c. 1200) "suitable, exquisite," literally "becomely" (compare becoming). If this is not the source, it at least influenced the vowel. Related: Comelily; comeliness.
It forms all or part of: a- (3) "not, without;" abnegate; ahimsa; an- (1) privative prefix; annihilate; annul; aught (n.2) "zero, nothing;" deny; hobnob; in- (1) "not, opposite of, without;" ixnay; naught; naughty; nay; nefarious; negate; neglect; negligee; negotiate; neither; nepenthe; nescience; nescient; neuter; never; nice; nihilism; nihility; nil; nill; nimiety; nix; no; non-; none; nonplus; nor; not; nothing; null; nullify; nulliparous; renegade; renege; un- (1) prefix of negation; willy-nilly.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit a-, an- "not;" Avestan na "not;" Greek a-, an-, ne- "not;" Latin in- "not," ne "that not;" Old Church Slavonic and Lithuanian ne "not;" Old Irish an-, ni, Cornish ny "not;" Gothic and Old English un- "not."
It forms all or part of: abscissa; conscience; conscious; ecu; escudo; escutcheon; esquire; nescience; nescient; nice; omniscience; omniscient; plebiscite; prescience; prescient; rescind; rescission; science; scienter; scilicet; sciolist; scission; schism; schist; schizo-; schizophrenia; scudo; sheath; sheathe; sheave (n.) "grooved wheel to receive a cord, pulley;" shed (v.) "cast off;" shin (n.) "fore part of the lower leg;" shingle (n.1) "thin piece of wood;" shit (v.); shive; shiver (n.1) "small piece, splinter, fragment, chip;" shoddy; shyster; skene; ski; skive (v.1) "split or cut into strips, pare off, grind away;" squire.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit chindhi, chinatti "to break, split up;" Avestan a-sista- "unsplit, unharmed," Greek skhizein "to split, cleave, part, separate;" Latin scindere "to cut, rend, tear asunder, split;" Armenian c'tim "to tear, scratch;" Lithuanian skiesti "to separate, divide;" Old Church Slavonic cediti "to strain;" Old English scitan, Old Norse skita "to defecate;" Old English sceað, Old High German sceida "sheath;" Old Irish sceid "to vomit, spit;" Welsh chwydu "to break open."