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adjective pret·ty \ˈpri-tē, ˈpər- also ˈpru̇-\

Simple Definition of pretty

  • : attractive to look at usually in a simple or delicate way

  • : pleasant to look at or listen to

  • : large or impressive

Full Definition of pretty


  1. 1 a :  artful, clever b :  pat, apt

  2. 2 a :  pleasing by delicacy or grace b :  having conventionally accepted elements of beauty c :  appearing or sounding pleasant or nice but lacking strength, force, manliness, purpose, or intensity <pretty words that make no sense — Elizabeth B. Browning>

  3. 3 a :  miserable, terrible <a pretty mess you've gotten us into> b chiefly Scottish :  stout

  4. 4 :  moderately large :  considerable <a very pretty profit> <cost a pretty penny>

  5. 5 :  easy to enjoy :  pleasant —usually used in negative constructions <reality is not so pretty — Caleb Solomon>

pret·ti·ly play \-tə-lē\ adverb
pret·ty·ish play \-tē-ish\ adjective

Examples of pretty

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. He made a pretty profit selling his antique car.

  4. She received a pretty sum of money.

Origin of pretty

Middle English praty, prety, from Old English prættig tricky, from prætt trick; akin to Old Norse prettr trick

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of pretty

beautiful, lovely, handsome, pretty, comely, fair mean exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure. beautiful applies to whatever excites the keenest of pleasure to the senses and stirs emotion through the senses <beautiful mountain scenery>. lovely is close to beautiful but applies to a narrower range of emotional excitation in suggesting the graceful, delicate, or exquisite <a lovely melody>. handsome suggests aesthetic pleasure due to proportion, symmetry, or elegance <a handsome Georgian mansion>. pretty often applies to superficial or insubstantial attractiveness <a painter of conventionally pretty scenes>. comely is like handsome in suggesting what is coolly approved rather than emotionally responded to <the comely grace of a dancer>. fair suggests beauty because of purity, flawlessness, or freshness <fair of face>.

Rhymes with pretty



adverb pret·ty \ˈpri-tē, ˈpər- also ˈpru̇-; before “near(ly)” often ˈpərt or ˈprit or ˈpru̇t\

Simple Definition of pretty

  • : to some degree or extent but not very or extremely

  • : to a great degree or extent

Full Definition of pretty

  1. 1 a :  in some degree :  moderately <pretty cold weather> b :  quite, mainly <the wound was…pretty bad — Walt Whitman>

  2. 2 :  in a gracefully pleasing manner :  prettily <pop vocalists who can sing pretty — Gerald Levitch>

pretty much

Usage Discussion of pretty

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

  1. 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

  2. … I could pretty much go wherever I felt a story led … —Roy Blount, Jr., New York Times Book Review, 9 Mar. 1986

  3. … regards most of us as pretty irrevocably plunged in illusion. —Iris Murdoch, The Fire and the Sun, 1977

  4. 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

  5. Did you put the keys on the table? I'm pretty sure I did.

  6. The teams are pretty equally matched.

  7. The work is pretty hard.

  8. I have to leave pretty soon.

  9. The movie was pretty good but not great.

  10. They've accomplished some pretty amazing things.

  11. She was driving pretty fast.

Origin of pretty

(see 1pretty)

First Known Use: 1565



noun pret·ty \ˈpri-tē, ˈpər- also ˈpru̇-\

Definition of pretty

plural pretties

  1. 1 plural :  dainty clothes; especially :  lingerie

  2. 2 :  a pretty person or thing

Origin of pretty

(see 1pretty)

First Known Use: 1736



verb pret·ty \ˈpri-tē, ˈpər- also ˈpru̇-\

Simple Definition of pretty

  • : to make (something) pretty

Full Definition of pretty


  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to make pretty —usually used with up <curtains to pretty up the room>

Examples of pretty

  1. She prettied the cake with icing, sprinkles, and nuts.

Origin of pretty

(see 1pretty)

First Known Use: 1909

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up pretty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 14, 2016

to hug and kiss another person

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