'in' words and 'out' words

Alan’s newsletter “Too Many Words”, which I relished reading, as usual, has given me something to chew on. I wasn’t at all aware that words like ‘nice’, ‘terrible’, ‘horrible’ and ‘awful’ have seen better days, though I did hear that ‘awfully’ might sound a bit posh and I think I had read somewhere before that ‘nice’ doesn’t mean much today.

These are words that I use a lot, therefore my English must sound terribly old-fashioned – though hopefully in a quaint way :slight_smile: . My saying so is useless, of course (I have a feeling that ‘of course’ is another ‘out’ expression), but I refuse to let the word ‘nice’ be scorned and then get into oblivion! Does it really sound so outdated? To my ears it has a nice sound to it, or maybe it’s only due to its positive meaning.

Now I feel that I’ve missed out on something or that the world is spinning too fast for me… Help! :frowning: . Maybe it’s the stuff I read (though I haven’t had much time for this beloved pastime of mine lately, especially since I’m hooked on ‘English-testnetting’ – how’s that for a new word?). I can only hope that if I go on participating in these forums, my English will become more up-to-date and it will help me keep abreast of new words.

Come to think of it, why don’t we have a forum or at least a thread about lost words or words that are not ‘in’ anymore and their substitutes? I, for one, have a very keen interest in this subject. Maybe just a list of ‘in’ and ‘out’ words/expressions would do. Thank you for at least thinking about it.

“Nice” is still a normal word, and it does not sound archaic or strange. As far as I know, it has not lost any of its latter-day meaning. (However, centuries ago, the word meant something much different.)

There is one special archaic word I wish I could still find. Centuries ago, English used to have a special word to indicate a clown who is trying too hard to be funny and not succeeding. I have forgotten the word, and have looked for it, but haven’t found it.

Hi Conchita,

Just to add to the ‘nice’ story. It’s certainly been about a long time and had various careers. People often say not nice in a slightly patronising way when they disapprove of a word, a way of behaving. Current I think at the moment and for information on that I rely heavily on my younger son, who has a very good ear for the latest idiom, is the expression Nice one, which is used as an expression of praise for what someone has done or just said. It first came to prominence in a tv advert I believe for a particular loaf of bread in 1972? and the slogan was: Nice One Cyril. It was created by a writer Peter Mayle who made a lot of money from a book about living in France (A year in Provence) and there is a film coming soon based on his second book. We happened to be staying in the part of France (Gordes) last autumn while the film was being made. But I digress. In the 70’s people would go around saying: Nice one, Cyril all the time and of course if you happened to be called Cyril, well …


“Nice one” may have been popularized in the UK in 1972, but I think people must have been saying it much earlier. When I was in elementary school, kids on the baseball field would sarcastically yell, “Nice one!” if someone flubbed a play. (That someone was usually me. :-)) Often it was followed by the derisive noun “spaz”. “Nice one, spaz!” Of course, it was also used to praise people.