pretty

adjective
pret·​ty | \ˈpri-tē, ˈpər- also ˈpru̇- \
prettier; prettiest

Definition of pretty 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a : artful, clever

b : pat, apt

2a : 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

3a : miserable, terrible a pretty mess you've gotten us into

b chiefly Scotland : stout

4 : moderately large : considerable a very pretty profit cost a pretty penny

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

pretty

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

Definition of pretty (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : in some degree : moderately pretty cold weather

b : quite, mainly the wound was … pretty bad— Walt Whitman

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

pretty much

pretty

noun
pret·​ty | \ˈpri-tē, ˈpər- also ˈpru̇- \
plural pretties

Definition of pretty (Entry 3 of 4)

1 pretties plural : dainty clothes especially : lingerie

2 : a pretty person or thing

pretty

verb
pret·​ty | \ˈpri-tē, ˈpər- also ˈpru̇- \
prettied; prettying

Definition of pretty (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

: to make pretty usually used with up curtains to pretty up the room

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Other Words from pretty

Adjective

prettily \ˈpri-​tə-​lē, ˈpər-​ also ˈpru̇-​ \ adverb
prettyish \ˈpri-​tē-​ish, ˈpər-​ also ˈpru̇-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for pretty

Adjective

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

Using Pretty as an Adverb: Usage Guide

Adverb

Some handbooks complain that pretty is overworked and recommend the selection of a more specific word or advise that pretty should be restricted 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 The Times Literary Supplement (London)

Examples of pretty in a Sentence

Adjective

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 He made a pretty profit selling his antique car. She received a pretty sum of money.

Adverb

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 “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.

Verb

She prettied the cake with icing, sprinkles, and nuts.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Marijuana farming remains pretty labor-intensive and relatively specialized. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Why the future of marijuana farming could be craft weed," 21 Nov. 2018 Senators say there are legitimate questions about Whitaker’s background, from his comments about special counsel Robert Mueller to his sketchy business dealings to his pretty thin legal résumé. Jen Kirby, Vox, "A brief guide to the legal challenges against acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker," 21 Nov. 2018 The Northern Lights are more than just something pretty to look at on your next Canadian camping trip. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "A Group of Scientists Want to Launch a Satellite to Make an Artificial Aurora," 29 Oct. 2018 Plant seeds and bulbs for a pretty yard come spring. Wire Services, The Seattle Times, "10 items to check off your fall home to-do list," 15 Oct. 2018 Keeping things compact without sacrificing style, this pretty option has elegant curves and a tasteful two-toned look. Jenny Xie, Curbed, "All kinds of small dining tables for under $500," 1 Oct. 2018 Best-Looking Leggings Outdoor Voices Two-Tone Legging ($85) By far the prettiest of the bunch, the Two-Tone leggings are sure to catch a few eyes. Emily Reed, Outside Online, "The Best Leggings of 2018," 5 July 2018 This distillery isn’t the prettiest to look at, but the range of products that comes out of it is quite interesting. Jonah Flicker, USA TODAY, "Explore four scenic distilleries in the U.K.," 22 June 2018 That’s a pretty hefty scene to follow, and whoever plays Oliver’s mysterious wife will need serious screen presence to avoid being overshadowed by the Oliver/Elio chemistry, so Johnson seems like a perfect choice. Emma Dibdin, Town & Country, "Call Me By Your Name," 17 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

We're pretty sure all of these efforts were conceived of and developed independently in China. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Scotland’s NIMBY problem, SpaceX test firing, Soyuz mishap," 2 Nov. 2018 No―I'm pretty sure the best sleep of my life came as a toddler. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "I Tried The $48 Mattress Topper Amazon Customers Are Obsessed With, And Now I Understand," 9 Oct. 2018 Philippe Rigollot Patisserie is the best bakery in town, and its pretty-in-pink tea room, Rose des Neiges, is a delight for breakfast or an afternoon tea. Elizabeth Wellington, Vogue, "Exploring Annecy, the Venice of the French Alps," 7 Nov. 2018 But from the viewpoint of an individual living through it, the transition was pretty casual — manifesting, on occasion, as foragers and farmers talking shop above the thrum of a river. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 According to the many five-star reviews, people are pretty happy with their wickedly good purchase. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Every 'Hocus Pocus' Fan Needs This Sanderson Sister Sweater for Halloween," 23 Sep. 2018 Today, kiddos made out pretty well with the stuffed kind, at Build-A-Bear Workshop locations. Rich Pope, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Build-A-Bear promotion draws long lines and frustrations," 13 July 2018 Beckham has hit pretty well in 13 games after an 0-for-4 showing in his first game back, batting .288/.315/.385 with three extra-base hits and four RBIs. Josh Land, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles on deck: What to watch Tuesday vs. Yankees, plus lineups, broadcast info and more," 10 July 2018 The Indians and Astros appear pretty well set, but that’s really it. Ted Berg, For The Win, "Why it probably makes sense for the Mets to trade Jacob deGrom," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That was 2013 and the beginning of the time when models who weren’t cookie-cutter-pretty were getting booked. Amanda Fitzsimons, Glamour, "Winnie Harlow: ‘It’s Beautiful That the Age of Cookie-Cutter Models Is Ending’," 1 June 2018 For my mom, who still keeps her recipes on index cards, this beyond-pretty box. Meredith Rollins, Redbook, "One Stylish Mother: Cyber Monday Shopping at See Jane Work," 1 Dec. 2013 Pretty late in the game for a free agent to be looking for a new ride. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "'It hurts the sport.' Tony Kaanan explains the cruelty of IndyCar free agency," 14 July 2017 Wick’s Pizza, 12717 Shelbyville Road, 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 18 (Prism Petals); 975 Baxter Ave., 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 19 (Pretty Plumes). The Courier-Journal, "50+ fun things for week of July 13-19," 12 July 2017 Pretty says he's known for having a sense of humor on his spots, and people seeing it all over the country wouldn't be aware of that. Luke O'neil, Esquire, "R.I.P., Weather Boi, the Funniest Meme We Barely Got to Know," 29 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Ugly Other games that are not as beautiful Verdict: Lots of stuff to do and pretty things to look at, but few fresh ideas. Daniel Starkey, Ars Technica, "Assassin’s Creed Odyssey," 4 Oct. 2018 One of the ideas envisioned by Vivo is to take in a full body scan of a person and then feed that information to a beautification AI that would more intelligently and proportionately pretty you up. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Vivo’s new face ID tech has 10 times as many sensor points as the iPhone X," 27 June 2018 From have resurrected the game, prettying it up a bit, and will release it in the United States later this year. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "The best PC games of E3 2018," 15 June 2018 Thus, the strategy was designed to produce either a win with virtually no GOP concessions, or a government shutdown that could pretty cleanly be blamed on Democrats. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Ryan’s Strategy May Be Backfiring, Earning GOP Blame for a Government Shutdown," 17 Jan. 2018 But in his mind, a year of prettying up the town (as well as spending about $200,000 of city funds on preparing for and carrying out the event) might pay off in making prospective students aware of the school. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, "So, Eclipse Boomtowns, How’d It Go?," 23 Aug. 2017 The reporters picked at it, concerned about getting the facts straight and looking to pretty up their now-public images. Douglas Perry, OregonLive.com, "Trump-Russia probe renews interest in 'All the President's Men,' where the real scandal hit 35 years later," 14 June 2017 First is a look at some of the top games involving area teams in Week 1 of the season (Aug. 18): 1.Center Grove at Warren Central: Pretty easy one to pick here. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "High school football: 10 games to watch in Week 1 of the season," 26 June 2017 What questions Congress will want to know: Pretty much everything above. Amber Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "Why Jeff Sessions' testimony on Russia is important," 13 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pretty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pretty

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1868, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pretty

Adjective

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

Adverb

see pretty entry 1

Noun

see pretty entry 1

Verb

see pretty entry 1

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Statistics for pretty

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pretty

The first known use of pretty was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for pretty

pretty

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of pretty

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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

: pleasant to look at or listen to

: large or impressive

pretty

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of pretty (Entry 2 of 3)

: to some degree or extent but not very or extremely

: to a great degree or extent

pretty

verb

English Language Learners Definition of pretty (Entry 3 of 3)

: to make (something) pretty

pretty

adjective
pret·​ty | \ˈpri-tē \
prettier; prettiest

Kids Definition of pretty

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: pleasing to the eye or ear especially because of being graceful or delicate a pretty face a pretty tune

Other Words from pretty

prettily \ˈpri-​tə-​lē \ adverb
prettiness \ˈpri-​tē-​nəs \ noun

pretty

adverb

Kids Definition of pretty (Entry 2 of 2)

: in some degree : fairly pretty good

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More from Merriam-Webster on pretty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pretty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pretty

Spanish Central: Translation of pretty

Nglish: Translation of pretty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretty for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pretty

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