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 As to be expected, the Burrasca will set you back a pretty penny. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 15 July 2021 All of the goods arriving at the Port of Long Beach last month would have fetched a pretty penny — had any of them been real. Los Angeles Times, 22 June 2021 But a good pair of shoes usually commands a pretty penny. Nishka Dhawan, USA TODAY, 18 June 2021 Onboard communications can also set owners back a pretty penny. Tamara Hardingham-gill, CNN, 1 June 2021 To live like Jen is going to cost you a pretty penny. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, 23 Feb. 2021 The American experience has not always been pretty. Erin Sood, Dallas News, 1 July 2021 But palpable isn’t always pretty, especially with Mars in Leo making an opposition to Saturn in Aquarius on July 1st. Gala Mukomolova, refinery29.com, 28 June 2021 Leaving was never going to be pretty, but the latest turn is uglier than expected. Nic Robertson, CNN, 24 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The question looms over the delicate negotiations on President Biden’s massive infrastructure package, which enters a crucial phase in the Senate this week, as well as pretty much any other item on the Democratic agenda. BostonGlobe.com, 26 July 2021 His fate pretty much was sealed after the last season. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, 25 July 2021 Well, President Biden pretty much said it this week. ABC News, 25 July 2021 That’s pretty much what would be required to dislodge any of the three leaders from a medal position. Los Angeles Times, 24 July 2021 Even if viewership numbers are down for the Olympics, ratings will still be higher than pretty much anything else on TV this summer, because live sports typically dominate viewership. Frank Pallotta, CNN, 23 July 2021 On the upper deck is an observation lounge which, apart from the pilothouse, another exterior lounge area, gym, dining area and the staterooms, is pretty much the complete layout. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 23 July 2021 And my dark spots are pretty much gone from the acne spots. Ariel Scotti, PEOPLE.com, 23 July 2021 That’s pretty much my routine—nothing out of the ordinary. Jenny Singer, Glamour, 23 July 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, 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

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near pretty

prettiness

pretty

pretty boy

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pretty

Last Updated

26 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pretty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretty. Accessed 6 Aug. 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

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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