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

Of course, his jumper is far prettier than his father's ever was. Joe Freeman, OregonLive.com, "Portland Trail Blazers' predraft workout features 1st-round talent, NBA lineage," 1 June 2018 Pull out all of your prettiest glassware and let your guests have their pick. Madeleine Luckel, Vogue, "A Champagne Lover’s Guide to Hosting a Last-Minute Bastille Day Soirée," 13 July 2018 With the exception of a bottle of wine or a vase of flowers (flowers should optimally be sent in advance), a hostess gift would generally be handed to the host, wrapped, or in a pretty gift bag, with a gift tag or card attached. Southern Living, "The Etiquette of Giving: Your Gift Questions Answered," 12 July 2018 The fact that some of the earliest cities with the motorized scooters feature no shortage of pretty backdrops is probably no accident, but also the cherry on top. Madeline Buxton, refinery29.com, "How Scooters Became A Go-To Instagram Prop — & The Next Transportation Revolution," 12 July 2018 Diners can eat there, on the patio, in the pretty piazza or take it to-go. Michele Parente, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Little Italy Food Hall, a delicious gastro-gathering place, opens today," 12 July 2018 Middle Deadfall is a pretty lake with great campsites, swimming in cool, clean water, and poor trout fishing. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Mount Eddy’s ‘reveal moment’ of giant Shasta," 5 July 2018 Also it’s such a fluffy name, and such a pretty plant. Brandon Rasmussen, idahostatesman, "Plant yourself at this new spot now open for coffee, tea in Boise," 5 July 2018 Right now, Amazon is offering some pretty solid discounts off a lot of its AmazonBasics electronics, with a variety of products offered at 20 percent off. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Grab these great Prime Day deals on AmazonBasics electronics before they're gone," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The attempted sale was for $150, a pretty good bargain closely kept military tech. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Security Roundup: Ukraine Blocked a Russian Hack of Its Critical Infrastructure," 14 July 2018 But for the smaller nations of Eastern Europe, the relative strength of the world’s most powerful military alliance, and the relative weakness of Russia, looks pretty obvious. Simon Shuster/tallinn, Time, "Trump Shakes Up NATO, but Eastern European Allies Aren't Stirred," 13 July 2018 Google's been interested in videogames for a long time, for reasons that should be pretty obvious. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Can Google Really Launch a Viable Videogame Platform?," 7 July 2018 And deGrom would be the pretty obvious Game 1 starter for most of those clubs. Ted Berg, For The Win, "Why it probably makes sense for the Mets to trade Jacob deGrom," 6 July 2018 There’s a pretty good chance your grooming habits may be working against you. Jane Chertoff, SELF, "This Is Why Your Eyebrows Are Thinner Than They Used to Be—and What to Do About It," 13 July 2018 Foot room is at a premium, legroom is so-so, though headroom is pretty good. Scott Sturgis, Philly.com, "2018 Stelvio rounds out the Alfa Romeo lineup," 12 July 2018 The first six months were pretty good but then things changed. SI.com, "Tottenham Set to Obstruct Arsenal Transfer Plans for Barcelona Midfielder Andre Gomes," 12 July 2018 If 13, or a saint associated with 13, pops up in your dreams, that’s also a pretty good sign! Sarah Lyons, Teen Vogue, "How to Make Friday the 13th Good Luck Charms," 12 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

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 Pretty hard to believe anything significant is in the works with that sort of exodus. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Mass Effect's downfall, CD Projekt's extortion, E3 rumors and more," 9 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

6 Oct 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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Comments on pretty

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