‘Oh, nice one.’

I like receiving a ‘nice one’ from someone. It’s an elegant compliment I think. It’s almost an aside, almost an afterthought, quite understated, and for those three reasons it comes across as both appreciative and genuine. It doesn’t sound perfunctory.

Nice is often thought of as an underwhelming adjectival endorsement, a way of damning someone with faint praise.

‘What do you think of my dress?’

‘It’s nice.’

‘Gee, thanks for that glittering encouragement.’

Nice one, on the other hand, as well as its sister phrase ‘nicely done’, doesn’t carry that undertone of non-commitment. It’s not over the top either. It’s just about right, at least to my English ear which is tuned to appreciate signals of understatement, modesty and humility from others, even if I can’t always give them myself.

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