pretty

adjective
pret·​ty | \ ˈpri-tē How to pronounce pretty (audio) , ˈpər- How to pronounce pretty (audio) 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 How to pronounce pretty (audio) , ˈpər- How to pronounce pretty (audio) 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 How to pronounce pretty (audio) , ˈpər- How to pronounce pretty (audio) 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 How to pronounce pretty (audio) , ˈpər- How to pronounce pretty (audio) 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 How to pronounce pretty (audio) , ˈpər-​ also  ˈpru̇-​ \ adverb
prettyish \ ˈpri-​tē-​ish How to pronounce pretty (audio) , 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 Bezos and Musk have squabbled over space projects for years, and this latest bout, their biggest yet, hasn’t been pretty. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The World’s Richest Men Are Brawling Over the Moon," 28 Apr. 2021 Bret Bielema inherited a 2-6 team at Illinois, and the first three weeks of spring practice weren't always pretty. Eric Olson, Star Tribune, "Ohio State among 5 Big Ten teams auditioning quarterbacks," 26 Apr. 2021 The early returns on this year’s team are not pretty, especially offensively. Larry Fleisher, Forbes, "Off To Their Worst Start Since 1997, The New York Yankees Are Searching For Answers," 19 Apr. 2021 There was champagne on the table and people coming by to say congratulations, and my gown was pretty. Matthew Jacobs, Vulture, "Marcia Gay Harden Answers Every Question We Have About Her Pollock Oscars Win," 7 Apr. 2021 Alongside the abundance of pretty things, the registry is also deeply practical. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Over The Moon Makes It Easy to Curate a Stylish Yet Practical Wedding Registry," 23 Mar. 2021 My interpretation of this aspect may be clouded by all the pretty things to look at. Washington Post, "In ‘Bridgerton,’ Shonda Rhimes stakes a sumptuous, provocative claim on Netflix — and the traditional period drama," 23 Dec. 2020 Lots and lots of flowers and colorful pretty things. Anna Borges, SELF, "Everything Is Still Uncertain, so Create One Thing You Can Control," 13 Nov. 2020 Flower stems for these poignantly pretty things were often wire pulled from window screens. oregonlive, "Portland Japanese Garden exhibit offers glimpse inside Manzanar prison camp (review)," 9 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Drake basketball and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Matthew Bain, The Indianapolis Star, "Notre Dame football gets Iowa commit, tight end Eli Raridon," 2 May 2021 Despite the Baffert factor, Medina Spirit was pretty much dismissed by bettors and went off at 12-1. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Bob Baffert's record seventh Kentucky Derby win shows why you should never bet against him," 2 May 2021 While members of pretty much all groups are more comfortable going out, people getting a Covid-19 vaccine is helping. Harry Enten, CNN, "The data shows Americans are going out at highest levels in a year," 1 May 2021 Last year online dating became pretty much all dating, and some apps teased users with new functionalities such as in-app video. David Marino-nachison, WSJ, "Is Covid-19 Fading From Our Lives? Consumer App Use Provides Clues," 30 Apr. 2021 But smart plugs are still at the top of the list for pretty much everyone, so don’t miss this great deal. Maren Estrada, BGR, "Last chance to get best-selling Wi-Fi smart plugs for $4.72 each at Amazon," 30 Apr. 2021 Did Snyder figure the game was pretty much unwinnable — especially the way his team fell apart early — and simply pull the plug? Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah Jazz’s ‘frustrating night’: Loss to Suns, season sweep, falling to second place … not taking the game seriously?," 30 Apr. 2021 Knak tipped a pick home for his second goal, Mannek’s long shot made it through traffic, Kade Nolan hit the empty net, and then Tyson Kozak added a late one after the game was pretty much decided. Dylan Bumbarger, oregonlive, "Celebration interrupted: Winterhawks rally for 5-2 win," 30 Apr. 2021 Well, that’s pretty much applicable to any predator. Jonathan Peltz, Wired, "A Wildlife Photographer Critiqued Our New Pokémon Snap Photos," 30 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This drive along the northern New England coast takes just over three hours, but is filled with charm: think endless beaches, fishing harbors, artist colonies, and postcard-pretty villages clinging to the edge of the water. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "14 Best Road Trips in America," 22 June 2020 Most people seem to agree — the bartenders have a habit of making the drinks in a pretty row at the bar, in the style of the Irish coffee pros at Buena Vista Cafe. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Flour + Water Pizzeria, the home of the $8 slice and much, much more," 29 Aug. 2019 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 Like other quarantine micro-trends—sourdough starters, for one—the drink grew popular online for being both easy to make and pretty to photograph. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "In 1950, Americans Had Aspic. Now We Have Dalgona Coffee.," 29 Apr. 2020 In other words, despite the gaping asymmetries of information between the industry and the public, brokerages still shell out big-time to pretty up their BrokerCheck reputations. Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, "Wall Street’s watchdog is obscuring data that could protect investors," 3 Mar. 2020 While all real estate is local, as the saying goes, the one constant is that February is the month when the spring market looms and sellers nationwide begin prettying their properties and readying them to list. Katy Mclaughlin, WSJ, "For Homeowners Across the Country, Spring Signals a Time to Sell," 20 Feb. 2020 Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa—what kind of animal spends all their waking hours prettying up their vehicle and then stores it in the air? Popular Science, "Here’s what’s inside my dream garage," 9 Sep. 2019 The backdrop of drab civic office buildings is being prettied up with dozens of massive murals from some of the city’s resident artists. Gregory Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "One Day, One Place: Sacramento," 22 Aug. 2019 The use of filters can help signal a benign post: People don’t tend to pretty up their victimizing. Katy Steinmetz, Time, "Inside Instagram's War on Bullying," 8 July 2019 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

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, Adverb, Noun, and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for pretty

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pretty

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pretty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretty. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce pretty (audio) \
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

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

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