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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Here is the crocodile basking among pretty flowers, taking a bit of pleasure there, certainly. Joy Williams, The New Yorker, 5 Aug. 2022 For pretty, there are restless Satie-like piano études by Paul Shilton. New York Times, 4 Aug. 2022 Assemble a pretty cheese plate with fruit, nuts, and crackers, or serve up trays of fresh fruit and cut veggies—no cooking needed. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 3 Aug. 2022 Inspired by the popular cocktail, this dessert is so simple, inexperienced cooks with few tools and small kitchens can succeed with this pretty-enough-for-company dessert without breaking a sweat. Anna Francese Gass, Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2022 Styled with a permanently furrowed brow and some pretty mean sideburns, Evans plays one of the exes, Lucas Lee, in this unique and entertaining film. Sophie Hanson, Harper's BAZAAR, 3 Aug. 2022 As for her makeup, Cardi and her go-to makeup artist Erika La' Pearl opted for long lashes and a rose-brown lipstick for a fresh and pretty vibe. Kara Nesvig, Allure, 2 Aug. 2022 The building itself is on of the most beautiful in the state, after the old mission style of architecture, with a blending of the modern and antique in innumerable pretty devices. San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Aug. 2022 Surprise the matriarch of your family by putting all of her kid's and grandkid's birthdays in one pretty print (up to 20!). Alyssa Gautieri, Good Housekeeping, 1 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The director has been monkeying around with different versions of his sci-fi masterpiece movie pretty much since it was released, and this latest installment does not disappoint. Dennis Perkins, EW.com, 5 Aug. 2022 But that was pretty much it for us: a general air of cordiality prevailing, nothing more. Bob Brody, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Aug. 2022 My first two just happened to rule out pretty much any other options. Erik Kain, Forbes, 4 Aug. 2022 These invigorating tablets are great in pretty much all settings, but especially nice after a sweat session. Lindy Segal, Harper's BAZAAR, 4 Aug. 2022 Saturday and Sunday are pretty much twins, with partly sunny skies and a decent chance for afternoon-evening showers and storms. David Streit, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2022 It’s been hot outside pretty much everywhere this summer. Jacob Stern, The Atlantic, 3 Aug. 2022 This is more of a splurge, but hear us out — the Apple Watch can do pretty much anything. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 2 Aug. 2022 That’s pretty much where the conversation about Soto ended. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 1 Aug. 2022 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, 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, 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, 1 June 2018 For my mom, who still keeps her recipes on index cards, this beyond-pretty box. Meredith Rollins, Redbook, 1 Dec. 2013 Pretty late in the game for a free agent to be looking for a new ride. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 27 June 2018 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near pretty

prettiness

pretty

pretty boy

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Statistics for pretty

Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pretty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretty. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for 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

More from Merriam-Webster on pretty

Nglish: Translation of pretty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretty for Arabic Speakers

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