Wednesday Word Tangle: The most bland word in the English language?



I don’t mean Nice, that haven on the French Riviera, haloed by blue seas and white sands, and a fringing of palm trees for good measure.

No! I mean NICE That most bland of compliments. Picture the scene.

I’ve just finished another short story/ long story/ soon to be classic and be added to the reading list of every kid studying English at college.

It could be a horror story, dripping with blood, swathed in entrails with a rather attractive severed head motif running throughout.

Could be a stab at Magic-Realism involving a man who thinks he’s a chicken meeting a woman who thinks she’s a giant hen’s egg and the intricacies of their love life – I mean, which comes first?

I’ve loved this foray into fiction, this meander through metaphor, this wander into word-smithery.

I’ve rewritten, I’ve proofed, I’ve polished the damn thing to within an inch of its papery life. This thing may be shinier than Taylor Swift’s smile, but I still need eyes on it other than my own before I send it winging into the blogisphere, an editor’s inbox, or into the cruel clutches of a competition judge.

So, I share. I rip open my literary chest and place my still beating, pulsing – Boom! Biddy-Boom! – writer’s heart on the slab of other peoples’ opinions. They grab that heart, fingers shivering with its throb, gore pouring down their wrists, pooling on the floorboards in a blackening puddle, drip-drip-dripping through those boards, coagulating into a crimson rime in the netherworld of under floor fluff and tumbleweeds of cat hair. (I’ve slipped into the genre – stick with it, all right?)

The recipient of my writer’s heart turns it this way and that, examining the vessels and veins that make up its structure, the throbbing muscle of my invention.

They look up from my creation, my heart, my soul and they say,

‘Yeah. NICE.’

NICE? My nan’s crocheted doilies were NICE! Bubble bath and a neck tie for Christmas is NICE!

It’s a vacuum of a word, a word where all sense and meaning have been sucked out leaving it hollow – a non-word. It’s a word people use when they don’t know what else to say, when they don’t want to tell the truth or just can’t find the words to describe how nothing they find what it is they’re describing.

It’s a word some people use when they don’t know many others.

Is NICE the most bland word in the English language? Is it more bland than BLAND? It’s possible.

It was not always the way.

NICE meant at various times through history, foolish, silly, shy and reserved, fussy, fastidious, delicate, precise and careful before becoming pleasant and agreeable during the 19th century.

Next time someone opens a present you’ve given them and declares it to be NICE you better make sure you’ve kept the receipt.

Is NICE the most bland word in the English language? Nominate your favourite BLAND word in the Comments section.

Thanks as always to Kittykat-bitsandbobs for the W4W idea.

The very best recurring use of NICE ever.


11 thoughts on “Wednesday Word Tangle: The most bland word in the English language?

      1. Sorry, could not help it! It was very good though, it reminds me of my teacher telling us never to use ‘Got’, as she said there is always a better word!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah! My teacher too! I can’t even remember her name, but she was very stern and ranted on about how clumsy and inelegant the word ‘got’ is, how -as you say- there’s always a better alternative. I still have a problem with ‘got’ to this day. Thanks for reading

        Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Nice’ one Doug 🙂 I wonder if ‘nice’ will be reappropropriated, like ‘sick’ – it kind of is already, as your example shows. Maybe in few years time it will be the coolest thing to say – of course ‘coolest’ won’t be …

      Liked by 1 person

  1. ah, almost a spit-take on the man/chicken/woman/egg/who came first! I do love the way your mind works and your fingers write. Also, my tidbit for the day: Shakespeare used nice to mean stupid. We must be very careful with our compliments!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I’m glad you spotted that – you’re the only person to mention it. I don’t usually include rude jokes on my blog, but when it sprung into my head, I couldn’t not include it 🙂 I didn’t know that about the Shakespearean use of ‘nice’. It’s been interesting to learn how colourful the word has been through the centuries, how its evolved. I wonder where it will go next?


      1. Can’t wait to see what’s round the corner – more negative words turned to positive ones by teenagers probably. They’re good at that!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.