There’s Nothing Nice About The Word Nice

My old English teacher, Mrs. Hulme, reigned supreme in a rusty portakabin on the outer edges of my grammar school’s grounds. Double English with her on a freezing Monday morning was always a delight as she sat hunched behind her desk, as miserable as the rest of us at the thought of seventy minutes of Chaucer or Shakespeare. You can only take so many toilet and codpiece jokes and they were waaaaaay over the head of yours truly.

How I managed to escape this literary hell with ‘A’ grades in both English Language and English Literature is beyond me. I hadn’t an earthly about the imagery of D.H. Lawrence and Tennessee Williams was a Streetcar Named Desire too far. But I bumbled through so must have been listening to at least some of the wisdom of Mrs. Hulme. She no doubt had dreams of becoming a famous poet and novelist. She ended up with a class of bored teenagers in a temporary classroom in deepest, darkest Tyrone.

I did garner one educational gem from her, however, that I’ve clung too tightly throughout my writing career. Her pathological hatred of the word ‘nice.’ ‘It’s a lazy word, a nothing word’ she would seethe between mouthfuls of lukewarm coffee. To use it in one of our essays was effectively signing one’s own death warrant. There was nothing nice about being nice when so many more worthy adjectives were begging to be utilised.

To this day, you will not find the word ‘nice’ in any of my literary scribblings. You will, no doubt, find many other grammatical howlers but I’ll not fall prey to the wrath of Mrs. Hulme who is either a very old lady now or quite possibly reading this from beyond the grave with pursed lips and an arched eyebrow. I’d like to think she would be pleased at least one of her flock inherited her love of the written word. That would be nice.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

17 thoughts on “There’s Nothing Nice About The Word Nice

  1. Oh, it’s so easy to say what a nice story… My wife used to hate needlework at school, taught by a certain Miss Sparrow. But now she makes all sorts of things, from bags to cushions to dog coats – you name it she’ll give it a go and has sold a few items. So she’s had some little labels made, which she sows inside, which feature an embroidered pair of scissors and the words “Miss Sparrow” ! Maybe Mrs Hulme should feature in your next book. 😊

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  2. There are certain words that I do my best to not use, due to their over use. I don’t immediately recall if the word nice has stopped me cold in my writing as others have, but I’m sure it will now.

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  3. You are hilarious! The word we were forbidden to use in English, Mrs. Bell the teacher, was “thing.” She detested the word, and I find myself trying to ensure I don’t use it, but fail a lot. It’s funny how something from the high shool, more than 50 years ago, still impacts my thinking.

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  4. I went to an Al Stewart concert a while back. He told the most delightful story on this subject. I often use it with my students to get them to upgrade their vocabulary. He said, Imagine, Michael Jackson (back when he was alive) opens his front door and all 87,000 words of the English language were standing out front waiting for him to choose them for a song. Words like love, baby, groovy, were right in front. They were big, tall and were screaming, “Use me!” In the back were words like antidisestablishmentarianism. I try to give all those words in the back a chance.

    Thanks for a great story, Al! So, here’s to the words in the back! Give them a chance!

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  5. I enjoyed reading this, it took me back to my own high school days and the English teacher I loved. I cannot remember her having a particular word she disliked but she hated lazy writing. I worked hard to make sure I never got that particular adjective on an essay. 🙂

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  6. Good points here! It is a “lazy word” esp when there are so many fabulous adjectives to express one’s ideas and thoughts. Certain cliches should be discarded as well or at least recycled into something else! 🙂

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  7. The lingering revelations that I anticipate from the ingenuity in your post are indescribable. Nice is a word to be expired with the ambiguity and extreme right-or-left use that’s intended to convey a meaning familiar with the speaker and indiscernible to others. If you have nothing [inspirational] to say, say nothing at all. Plenty of people that have been nice to me have intentionally done so for selfish/harmful reasons. That is not nice.

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