Five Expressions of Enthusiasm and Praise That Have Negative Meanings

It’s always good to hear praise for one’s work, appearance, character or just to hear positive remarks about a situation or thing. Some of these words, however, used to have, or still have, very negative meanings. In the post, I’ll give you five of these expressions and talk about their dark sides.

1. Nice

“He’s got a nice personality,” you might say, when asked by a friend what you think of her boyfriend. Or you might resort to saying, “it’s nice,” when asked what you think a colleague’s singing. It’s the blanket positive adjective of the English language, aside from good. What might surprise you is that it used to mean timid and foolish, stupid, senselessat least in late 13th century English. A century later, people started using it to mean dainty and delicate. Yet another hundred years passed before it acquired the meaning of precise and careful. By the 1800s, it had started being used as a positive word, meaning agreeable or delightful.

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