pretty

adjective
pret·​ty | \ ˈpri-tē How to pronounce pretty (audio) , ˈpər- also ˈpru̇- How to pronounce pretty (audio) \
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- also ˈpru̇-; before "near(ly)" often ˈpərt or ˈprit or ˈpru̇t How to pronounce pretty (audio) \

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- also ˈpru̇- How to pronounce pretty (audio) \
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- also ˈpru̇- How to pronounce pretty (audio) \
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 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

Orwell would surely notice that Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, with its tranquil populations of pretty people living in a pleasing soma tupor, was closer to the mark than 1984. Kyle Smith, National Review, "What Would Orwell Think of Us?," 11 June 2019 But ultimately Rachel's teenaged angst is pretty garden variety. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Black Mirror is back for S5, but it might be running out of fresh ideas," 10 June 2019 There’s little doubt that Smith’s stat line and the final score are not the prettiest. Nick Kelly, BostonGlobe.com, "Put on the spot, Josh Smith can’t deliver for Red Sox," 8 June 2019 As with the recordings of their contemporary Father John Misty, one senses that under the pretty surface of these songs are darker, more volatile emotions, wells of loneliness and uncertainty. John Adamian, courant.com, "Milk Carton Kids bringing their poetic, powerful music to College Street," 7 June 2019 The box-and-one stretch told us that while the Warriors struggled against the peculiar defense, those dudes from Oakland can play some pretty damn good defense as well. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: The Raptors paid Steph Curry the ultimate respect and it told us so much about these NBA Finals," 3 June 2019 Sarah Lawrence for Vox Traditionally, the beauty industry likes to put a pretty face on things; that’s its job. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "The biggest beauty trend in 2018? Makeup brands behaving badly," 18 Dec. 2018 Some competing virtual-reality devices have used a high-speed WiGig radio to transfer content, but Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 spec list includes a pretty generic 2x2 802.11ac wireless radio. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft launches HoloLens 2 with a strong business bent," 24 Feb. 2019 Despite the Accord's fastback profile, the slinkier Mazda 6 is still prettier. Car and Driver, "2019 10Best Cars," 28 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

About the struggles of working people — pretty much everybody — and the weird mix of fatigue, panic and slivers of hope that characterize the national mood. John Adamian, courant.com, "Drive-by Truckers report on the state of America at Infinity Hall," 14 June 2019 Unfortunately, the appetite for pitting women against each other is still pretty strong, though people are starting to show signs of fatigue. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Katy Perry and Taylor Swift's Feud: A Timeline," 12 June 2019 Getting into mining could certainly help complete that vision, while also securing materials in what is turning out to be a pretty volatile market as more electric vehicles get built every year. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "The biggest news from Elon Musk’s Tesla shareholder meeting," 12 June 2019 In life, however, and especially in postmodern life, where rote tasks are increasingly automated and pretty much any fact can be discovered with a web search, the rules aren’t straightforward. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "To thrive in a “wicked” world, you need range," 9 June 2019 The answer to the anguished pleas — even a bad turn of events might feel better if the umpires can be blamed — is pretty simple: The rule wasn’t in effect in that situation. Bob Ford, https://www.inquirer.com, "The tragic, but correct, application for the Phillies of the infield fly rule | Bob Ford," 6 June 2019 Lengthy power cuts are pretty much a daily experience in Nigeria. Samuel Ayokunle Olowosejeje, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria’s unreliable electricity costs its economy $29 billion a year—solar power would save billions," 1 June 2019 So that’s pretty special to be directly involved in something that is part of George’s vision. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Whoops—Isaac Hampstead Wright Might Have Just Spoiled the Ending to the 'Game of Thrones' Books," 30 May 2019 With oversized windows that curve up and into the train’s roof, a restaurant car, and fairy-tale views, the ride was already a pretty luxurious experience. Kaitlin Menza, Town & Country, "Switzerland's Most Beautiful Train Line, the Glacier Express, Has a New Luxury Car," 29 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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

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 From have resurrected the game, prettying it up a bit, and will release it in the United States later this year. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "The best PC games of E3 2018," 15 June 2018 Thus, the strategy was designed to produce either a win with virtually no GOP concessions, or a government shutdown that could pretty cleanly be blamed on Democrats. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Ryan’s Strategy May Be Backfiring, Earning GOP Blame for a Government Shutdown," 17 Jan. 2018 But in his mind, a year of prettying up the town (as well as spending about $200,000 of city funds on preparing for and carrying out the event) might pay off in making prospective students aware of the school. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, "So, Eclipse Boomtowns, How’d It Go?," 23 Aug. 2017 The reporters picked at it, concerned about getting the facts straight and looking to pretty up their now-public images. Douglas Perry, OregonLive.com, "Trump-Russia probe renews interest in 'All the President's Men,' where the real scandal hit 35 years later," 14 June 2017 First is a look at some of the top games involving area teams in Week 1 of the season (Aug. 18): 1.Center Grove at Warren Central: Pretty easy one to pick here. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "High school football: 10 games to watch in Week 1 of the season," 26 June 2017 What questions Congress will want to know: Pretty much everything above. Amber Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "Why Jeff Sessions' testimony on Russia is important," 13 June 2017

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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Statistics for pretty

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pretty

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on pretty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pretty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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