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[nahy-si-tee] /ˈnaɪ sɪ ti/
noun, plural niceties.
a delicate or fine point; punctilio:
niceties of protocol.
a fine distinction; subtlety; detail:
the niceties of the filigree work.
Usually, niceties. a refined, elegant, or choice feature, as of manner or living:
working hard to acquire the niceties of life.
exactness or precision.
the quality of being nice; niceness.
delicacy of character, as of something requiring care or tact:
a matter of considerable nicety.
Origin of nicety
1275-1325; Middle English: silliness, extravagance, cleverness < Old French niceté. See nice, -ty2
Related forms
overnicety, noun, plural overniceties.
Can be confused
nice, niceness, nicety. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for nicety
Historical Examples
  • For to exaggerate with judgment one must begin by measuring with nicety.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • Calculating the instant to a nicety, he paid off the sheet and pulled up the tiller.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • To the college student life is not classified and systematized to a nicety.

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
  • It was to accomplish this nicety that the principle of the club was found to be so well adapted.

    The Book-Hunter

    John Hill Burton
  • He had gauged the character of his most uncompromising and powerful enemy to a nicety.

    Half a Hero Anthony Hope
  • Mr. Caske,” responded the minister, “you have interpreted my words to a nicety.

    The Golden Shoemaker

    J. W. Keyworth
  • Save at the base he matched his leaf surroundings to a nicety.

    "Wee Tim'rous Beasties" Douglas English
  • It's the lack of certain things that go with nicety of living that grinds me most.

    Under the Country Sky Grace S. Richmond
  • The latter had a special arrangement by which they could be levelled to a nicety.

    An Explorer's Adventures in Tibet

    A. Henry Savage Landor
  • Ellis was with me, and declares that Hayden has touched me off to a nicety.

    Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay George Otto Trevelyan
British Dictionary definitions for nicety


noun (pl) -ties
a subtle point of delicacy or distinction: a nicety of etiquette
(usually pl) a refinement or delicacy: the niceties of first-class travel
subtlety, delicacy, or precision
excessive refinement; fastidiousness
to a nicety, with precision
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nicety

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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