In the nick / in good nick

We have been re-watching some of the River Cottage series as well as the Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain recently. Just last night we heard both Hugh F-W and Dave use the terms “in the nick” and “in good nick” to refer to a carcass that had been hung long enough and was ready for cooking.

Google’s ngram viewer finds a recent usage of “in good nick” that rises in what I’d guess is direct proportion to the decline of proper hanging and aging of meat, and precious little for “in the nick” that isn’t also found for “in the nick of time”.

Online dictionaries say that “in good nick” is slang for “in good condition”, but don’t give any definitions for “in the nick”.

So my question is, while “in good nick” probably just meant that the bird in question was in good condition to be cooked and eaten, is there a verbal-only usage “in the nick” that refers specifically to carcasses that have been hung long enough? Or am I imagining things?

PS: I have a Ph.D. in linguistics, so make your answer good :wink:

As a native British English speaker I have never heard “in the nick” used in this case. I sometimes watch both the programmes you mention and it doesn’t strike me as a phrase that would be used by the presenters: “in good nick”, yes. Is it possible you misheard and/or they misspoke?

It’s possible I misheard, but I thought Hugh did say that the lambs he’d just slaughtered would be “in the nick” for Valentine’s day. If you say it isn’t so, though, it probably wasn’t.

‘In the nick’ would mean they were keeping them in jail until needed!

Indeed, “to nick” can mean both “to apprehend” as by a policeman, and “to steal”.

In good nick -> In good condition
In the nick -> In prison
In the nick (of time) -> Just within a deadline.

the nick->jail
“you’re nicked”->you have been arrested

Concurring with everyone above - I’ve never heard “in the nick”.

In good nick is very common for “in good condition”. Buy a used car, and the guy will tell you it’s in good nick.

As irishgirl etc. point out, “the nick” is prison, “to nick” is to steal, to be “nicked” is to be arrested.

I had never heard this either until we watched the British detective series “A Touch of Frost” where it was used all the time, in all the senses used here. (Never good nick, though.) I think they used the Nick to mean the police station, not the jail in particular.

Best usage ever: The Register reported a story where a woman driving in Florida was arrested for driving while shaving her pubes on the way to an assignation.
The first comment: “Nicked!”

I suspect the presenter here has used “the” as a form of emphasis, which is common modern English person slang. As in “this is the business” (ie this is really good). In other words it is a version of “in good nick”.

You have unfortunately leapt to the conclusion that this usage is something to do with meat and aging as a consequence of your unrepresentative experience of it: it isn’t: “in good nick” is a generic expression for something being in good condition.

“In the nick” as in “in prison” is a red herring here. I don’t know if the root etymology of the two usages is common, but certainly in terms of modern usage, there is no commonality between “nick” as in prison and arrest, and “nick” as in condition.

Might “in the nick,” in this context, have been a metaphorical way of saying that the carcass was in the meat-safe (or wherever it was being kept) - locked up as though it were in jail? I would not be at all surprised if this metaphor were common in the slang of butchers (or chefs, or whatever these guys were), it is appropriate enough.

Would have been even better if her assignation had been with Santa Claus.