This word has many meanings, but we'll focus on this common one:
In general, niceties are tiny little differences or subtle little details or points.
More specifically, niceties are often tiny little details related to politeness or correct behavior.
NICE id ease
Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one nicety or multiple niceties.)
How to use it:
You could talk about one nicety at a time: "using the right fork is a nicety I don't much care about." But usually we talk about niceties in the plural: "using the right fork, keeping your elbows off the dinner table--these are niceties I don't care much about."
You often talk about specific types of niceties: the niceties of cross-stitching, the niceties of gardening, the niceties of tax law, the niceties of good judgment or good taste, grammatical niceties, architectural niceties, mathematical niceties, political niceties, and so on.
Although you can say "social niceties," you don't have to, because if you just talk about niceties in general, people will understand that you mean the social ones. You might "observe the niceties," "stick to niceties," or "stand upon niceties," meaning you're obeying the subtle, detailed rules of proper social behavior.
Because niceties are such tiny, subtle rules, many people don't care for them at all and prefer to "dispense with the niceties," "disregard the niceties," "shove the niceties aside," "let the niceties fall by the wayside," and so on. Other people are just plain clueless about how to follow the niceties, so they might accidentally "trample on the niceties" or "blunder through the niceties," or the niceties may be entirely lost on some poor soul.
When talking with their clients to find out what they want, web site designers have to focus on overall intended results and value, rather than niceties like font colors, or else the whole process will get bogged down in micromanaged details.
Maybe there was a reason she wore yoga pants to the funeral, but I assumed she was either oblivious to niceties or deliberately disrespectful.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "niceties" means when you can explain it without saying "fine points" or "subtle distinctions."
Think of a time you really needed to get something done and you didn't care much about the details, and fill in the blanks: "I had no time for niceties like _____ when I had to _____."
Example: "I had no time for niceties like well-chosen graphics when I had to throw a presentation together in ten minutes."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, challenge your powers of memory and recall (or just get ready to reign supreme on Wheel of Fortune) as we play with two-word phrases that you’ll find in a dictionary. We’ll start off with easy tasks and advance to harder ones as the month goes on. See the right answer to each question the following day. You might even see a new phrase that inspires your curiosity and makes you look it up. Have fun! (Note: Every dictionary recognizes a different set of two-word phrases. I used the OED to make these game questions.)
What seven-letter word fits into each phrase below?
A Point Well Made:
John Adams: “You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”
1. The closet opposite of NICETIES is
A. CRUEL INTENTIONS
B. RANDOM DOODADS
C. MAIN IDEAS
2. There's no need to stand on niceties when _____.
A. you meet your colleagues for the first time
B. you're presented with a detailed contract
C. you have your closest friends over for dinner
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Today's word, meaning "nuances" or "little things you do to be polite and social," is helpful for talking about the complex rules for proper social behavior. Failing to observe the niceties of conversation, for example, can make you appear fa___che: socially awkward or helplessly shy. Could you recall that word?
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