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[nif-tee] /ˈnɪf ti/ Informal.
adjective, niftier, niftiest.
attractively stylish or smart:
a nifty new dress for Easter.
very good; fine; excellent:
a nifty idea.
substantial; sizable:
We sold the car for a nifty profit.
noun, plural nifties.
something nifty, as a clever remark or joke.
Origin of nifty
An Americanism dating back to 1860-65; of obscure origin
Related forms
niftily, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nifty
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Gad, that rose in your hair—trust a girl to know what's nifty!

    The Barrier

    Allen French
  • In a moment I had it girdled, and snapped the nifty sort of buckle they had made for me.

    The Trouble with Telstar John Berryman
  • She carries that sort of thing well—she's so clean and nifty in line.

    Money Magic Hamlin Garland
  • I suppose a mountain climber would have called it a nifty job.

    Fore! Charles Emmett Van Loan
  • It's part of my job to be a nifty young suspector—and to use what I guess at.

    The Rules of the Game Stewart Edward White
British Dictionary definitions for nifty


adjective (informal) -tier, -tiest
pleasing, apt, or stylish
quick, agile: he's nifty on his feet
Derived Forms
niftily, adverb
niftiness, noun
Word Origin
C19: of uncertain origin
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 nifty

"smart, stylish," 1868, of unknown origin, perhaps theatrical slang, first attested in a poem by Bret Harte, who said it was a shortened, altered form of magnificat. Related: Niftily; niftiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nifty



Smart; stylish; neat, slick: a great many niftier and hotter words/ a nifty way to upstage the president (1868+)


: You did that real nifty


  1. : his six blonde nifties/ Another nifty is the circularization of telephone subscribers
  2. A fifty-dollar bill

[origin unknown; called by Bret Harte, in the 1868 example, ''Short for magnificat'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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