This white shape stood apart by the hedge alone. From her position he knew it to be the pretty maiden with whom he had not danced. Trifling as the matter was, he yet instinctively felt that she was hurt by his oversight. —Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 1891
Darcy, on the contrary, had seen a collection of people in whom there was little beauty and no fashion, for none of whom he had felt the smallest interest, and from none received either attention or pleasure. Miss Bennet he acknowledged to be pretty, but she smiled too much. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813
Some handbooks complain that pretty is overworked and recommend the selection of a more specific word or restrict pretty to informal or colloquial contexts. Pretty is used to tone down a statement and is in wide use across the whole spectrum of English. It is common in informal speech and writing but is neither rare nor wrong in serious discourse <he may, if he be pretty well off or clever, qualify himself as a doctor — G. B. Shaw><a return to those traditions of American foreign policy which worked pretty well for over a century — H. S. Commager><the arguments for buying expensive books have to be pretty cogent — Times Literary Supplement>
Examples of PRETTY
“Did you put the keys on the table?”“I'm pretty sure I did.”
The teams are pretty equally matched.
The work is pretty hard.
I have to leave pretty soon.
The movie was pretty good but not great.
They've accomplished some pretty amazing things.
She was driving pretty fast.
By taunting the police, beating drums and throwing rocks, the rioters make it pretty clear that they want not a rational debate but the world's attention … —Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, 30 Apr. 2001
… I could pretty much go wherever I felt a story led … —Roy Blount, Jr., New York Times Book Review, 9 Mar. 1986
… regards most of us as pretty irrevocably plunged in illusion. —Iris Murdoch, The Fire and the Sun, 1977
The reflected radiance served to show, pretty distinctly, the aspect and arrangement of the room which Hepzibah entered, after descending the stairs. —Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables, 1851