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gneiss, nice
gneiss (NIGHS) (noun)
A banded or foliated metamorphic rock: While walking in the mountains, Polly and Phil saw some colorful gneiss, which was a piece of granite stone.
nice (NIGHS) (adjective)
1. Pleasing and agreeable in nature: Willie said he had a nice and enjoyable time at the party that night.
2. Having a pleasant or attractive appearance: Ingrid wore a lovely nice dress which enhanced her nice and charming face.

Patricia's nice friend, who is a jeweler, made a nice ring for her niece from some gneiss which she found when she was hiking this summer.

nice (adjective) (not comparable)
1. Pleasant or enjoyable: We had weather today which was verynice.
2. Kind, or showing courtesy, friendliness, or consideration: It was very nice of him to return my purse and the money that was in it, too.
3. Respectable, or of an acceptable social or moral standard: We have made some nice contacts in our new neighborhood.
4. Pleasing to look at: Shirley was wearing a very nice outfit.
5. Etymology: Nice is one of the more celebrated examples in English about a word that changed its meaning out of any recognition over the centuries.

In this case, from "stupid" to "pleasant".

Its ultimate source was Latin nesius, "ignorant," a compound adjective which was formed from the negative element ne- and the base of the verb scire "to know" which is the source of English science.

This passed into English via Old French nice with a minimal change of meaning, but from then on a slow but sure semantic transformation took place, from "foolish" via "shy" then "fastidious" and "refined" to "minutely accurate or discriminating" as in a "nice distinction" and on then to "pleasant, agreeable".

From the Dictionary of WORD ORIGINS, By John Ayto, page 364, Arcade Publishing, New York, 1990.

This entry is located in the following unit: sci-, -science, -scientific, -scientifically, -scient, -sciently (page 3)