Nice and Mean

I’m pretty sure that, several hundred years ago, “mean” meant miserly and “nice” connoted a picky little detail.

I like the way Brits use the word “nice” to mean “pleasant.”  Having your back scratched can feel nice.  Popsicles can taste nice.  We’d use “good” rather than “nice” in the US, where “nice” is mostly reserved for people and the occasional “have a nice day,” although I think “great” has supplanted “nice.”

“Great” and “awesome” are losing their punch through overuse.  But if I tell people not to use these words, I just sound mean.



Au (Hartford) Courant

Someone liked my use of the term “current self” a couple of weeks ago.  I meant that sometimes our inner lives have such sea changes (another favorite phrase) that our feelings and actions would hardly be recognizable by the 2002 or 2010 versions of ourselves.   I like “current” in the sense of “up-to-date,” but “current” is not static.  It is running, shifting.  It is a current event, an ocean current, related to “courier” and “courant,” always moving and chasing and striving.  Au courant= trendy.  Hartford Courant= a newspaper with a beautiful name in a city I know nothing about.

My gut feeling is that “courage” and “courant” are not etymologically related, that the former  is related to the cord- and card- words having to do with the heart, but I’m not sure.

Apps for That

When I came to Boston, I learned that people sometimes go out after work for drinks and apps.  I don’t know why no one in New York called appetizers “apps.”  Since I like an actual dinner after work, I might not have known the word “apps” because the whole concept didn’t seem filling enough.

Anyway, I’m wondering whether the use of “app” for appetizer predated or followed “app” for computer application.