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nicety

[nahy-si-tee]
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noun, plural ni·ce·ties.
  1. a delicate or fine point; punctilio: niceties of protocol.
  2. a fine distinction; subtlety; detail: the niceties of the filigree work.
  3. Usually niceties. a refined, elegant, or choice feature, as of manner or living: working hard to acquire the niceties of life.
  4. exactness or precision.
  5. the quality of being nice; niceness.
  6. delicacy of character, as of something requiring care or tact: a matter of considerable nicety.
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Origin of nicety

1275–1325; Middle English: silliness, extravagance, cleverness < Old French niceté. See nice, -ty2
Related formso·ver·ni·ce·ty, noun, plural o·ver·ni·ce·ties.
Can be confusednice niceness nicety
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

refinementsubtletyrigornuancemeticulousnessdetailprecisionshadeexactness

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


British Dictionary definitions for nicety

nicety

noun plural -ties
  1. a subtle point of delicacy or distinctiona nicety of etiquette
  2. (usually plural) a refinement or delicacythe niceties of first-class travel
  3. subtlety, delicacy, or precision
  4. excessive refinement; fastidiousness
  5. to a nicety with precision
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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

Word Origin and History for nicety

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper