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)

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 constructionsreality 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 upcurtains to pretty up the room

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Other Words from pretty

Adjective

prettily \ ˈpri-​tə-​lē How to pronounce prettily (audio) , ˈpər-​ also  ˈpru̇-​ \ adverb
prettyish \ ˈpri-​tē-​ish How to pronounce prettyish (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 It’s time to clean up those not-so-pretty places once and for all. Patricia Shannon, Southern Living, "I Didn’t Realize I Needed To Vacuum Behind My Big Kitchen Appliances Until I Pulled Out My Fridge," 20 May 2020 This version is a little prettier—thanks to the plaid styling—but just as durable. Jakob Schiller, Outside Online, "7 Pieces of Wool Gear We're Saving Up For," 13 Mar. 2020 It was made all the prettier by Matthews’ grace and elegance as a fielder. Sportsday Staff, Dallas News, "SportsDay staffers pick the best plays they’ve ever witnessed: Game-winners, miraculous catches and rare anomalies," 4 May 2020 Over eight episodes, 10 teams compete to produce the prettiest, most elaborate garden installations, with an emphasis on conservation and environmental sustainability. Scott Tobias, New York Times, "The Best Movies and TV Shows New on Netflix Canada in May," 30 Apr. 2020 While most of the prospects were already pretty tech-savvy, that wasn’t always the case with team personnel. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Meet the Auburn grad and behind-the-scenes star who saved the NFL Draft," 28 Apr. 2020 From a lipstick that goes on like the prettiest, sheerest Popsicle stain to a mascara that delivers all the volume without any of the flakes, here's what's absolutely worth spending your money on from Chanel. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, "The Best Chanel Makeup Products Worth Your Money," 13 Mar. 2020 The object of his affection is the prettiest and nicest girl in school, Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), a deacon’s daughter who’s sensitive and bookish, with a flair for art. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Netflix's Teen Dramedy The Half of It Is Sweet, Funny and Raw as a Scraped Knee," 30 Apr. 2020 On an everyday basis the policemen took the pretty girls with them, and the girls didn’t come back to the rooms all night. David Stavrou, Harper's Magazine, "At the Mind’s Limits," 30 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Coronavirus for old people that are sick like is pretty much a death sentence. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "'She was always just sweet': Beloved former art teacher dies of COVID-19," 29 May 2020 The new shows that came into being just before the shutdown are plastic simulacra of shows of yore—the kind of pretty, algorithmic television that pleasantly empties a quarantined mind. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "Pleasure and Pain on HBO Max," 28 May 2020 Gamache figured out a way to use this transfer method as a makeshift backup and restore, but the process isn’t pretty. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Choosing 2FA authenticator apps can be hard. Ars did it so you don’t have to," 27 May 2020 The game isn’t a fundamental part of Windows anymore—most people have a pretty solid grasp on dragging and dropping here in 2020. Popular Science, "An absurd number of people still play Microsoft Solitaire every month," 23 May 2020 The institute generally trumpets its findings, often offering director Anthony Fauci — who, fair enough, is pretty busy these days — or other senior personnel for interviews. Helen Branswell, STAT, "Vaccine experts say Moderna didn’t produce data critical to assessing Covid-19 vaccine," 19 May 2020 That's a pretty, savvy, calculated attempt to appeal to the pride of these jurors as winners, right? Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Tony Vlachos reveals all his antics we DIDN'T see on Survivor," 14 May 2020 Coifed and pretty, with a precise swipe of coral on her lips that brought out the gold flecks in her hazel eyes. Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Washington Post, "My mother’s childhood bout with polio paralyzed more than her body. I’ve spent much of my life trying to understand that paralysis.," 4 May 2020 Sometimes, mid-cycle refreshes get pretty drastic, but the 2021 Atlas doesn't reinvent the 2020 model or much change its essential merits. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, "The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Satisfies the Brady Bunches of America and Bolsters VW's Bottom Line," 15 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pretty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretty. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for pretty

pretty

adjective
How to pronounce pretty (audio) How to pronounce pretty (audio)

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
How to pronounce pretty (audio) How to pronounce pretty (audio)

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
How to pronounce pretty (audio) How to pronounce pretty (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on pretty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pretty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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