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 With its pretty gold butterfly and flower detailing, this does the job. Staff, CNN Underscored, "14 products at Target you didn’t realize you needed, starting at just $6," 3 Aug. 2020 The button-up comes in a range of pretty, dusky colors. Malia Griggs, SELF, "I Finally Found a Sun Protective Shirt That’s Actually Cute," 30 July 2020 The Giants added four players to their roster pool Saturday, including a top, young third-base prospect and a shortstop who cost them a pretty penny last year. Henry Schulman, SFChronicle.com, "Giants’ Logan Webb impresses Buster Posey with ‘electric’ stuff," 4 July 2020 The headlines, the ones that worry us the most at the moment, and still not pretty, are the players testing positive for Covid-19. Charles Hollis, al, "Alabama, Georgia (again) lead the way in 74th AL.com SEC Report," 28 June 2020 The pretty blooms—which are about four to five inches across—are rounded with high centers and give off a citrusy perfume. Southern Living, "Plant 'Marilyn Monroe' Hybrid Tea Roses for Peachy Blooms," 14 July 2020 Second-quarter results for the biggest U.S. banks won’t be pretty. David Benoit, WSJ, "Are Banks Afraid of Covid-19? Watch How Much They Set Aside for Loan Losses This Week," 12 July 2020 From there, Highway 29 and the parallel Silverado Trail head north among wineries, pretty towns, and lush scenery to Calistoga at the northern end of the Napa Valley. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, "7 Best West Coast Road Trips in the U.S.," 11 July 2020 However, there’s more to these products than just pretty designs. Kai Burkhardt, CNN Underscored, "We tried GlobeIn, a subscription for gorgeous handcrafted home goods," 3 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete, said to be the longest in Europe, is all downhill so pretty much anyone can do it. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "51 Things in Europe that Every Traveler Needs to Experience," 4 Aug. 2020 Walt Disney World annual passholders traditionally have roamed freely between the theme parks, popping in and out pretty much at will. Dewayne Bevil, orlandosentinel.com, "Disney: Making a day of it, once again, at Magic Kingdom," 4 Aug. 2020 So, the city and county have jointly had to sign off on pretty much everything that happens at The Banks. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, "Cranley wants Cincinnati to go ahead with Banks development, with or without the county," 3 Aug. 2020 So Brittany had to both provide for their family and take care of the children – pretty much on her own. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "Who’s really inside America’s jails? (audio)," 3 Aug. 2020 Send your demands to the U.S. Department of Education, which administrates Title IX and its guarantees of gender equity at any university receiving federal grants (which is pretty much all of them). Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: It’s time for college sports to tell athletes take it or leave it," 3 Aug. 2020 But that’s a tough sell since Zoom, Skype and other services allow interviews to take place from pretty much anywhere. Leila Cobo, Billboard, "For International Artists, US Entry in the Pandemic Comes With New Hurdles," 3 Aug. 2020 That meant their offices were pretty much ground zero for a cultural revolution. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, "This essential CREEM documentary gets to the rock magazine's irreverent, outrageous heart," 3 Aug. 2020 Since its start, the fire's progress has been pretty much unchecked. Brian Blueskye, USA TODAY, "Thousands to evacuate as Apple Fire grows in Southern California," 2 Aug. 2020 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

6 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pretty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretty. Accessed 11 Aug. 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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