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)

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- 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 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 Your sense of humor may go over the head of someone with a pretty face and not much else. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Nov. 1, 2019: Leo, being single has its perks; Sagittarius, shed expectations," 1 Nov. 2019 Because astronomers can’t really see exoplanets, instead interpreting details about them from various types of data, there weren’t any pretty pictures of planets to decorate the walls. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "NASA Celebrates Halloween With These Interstellar Horror Posters," 31 Oct. 2019 Now in his Jesus year, Pattinson still possesses the sort of beauty that makes him unique even in a business overflowing with pretty faces. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "In The Lighthouse, Beauty Battles the Beast," 24 Oct. 2019 Adidas knows how to make sneakers that are equal parts practical and pretty, and its Cloudfoam Pure running shoes are no exception. Kelsey Mulvey, Good Housekeeping, "Amazon Has Adidas' Best-Selling Sneakers on Sale for as Little as $35," 6 Sep. 2019 But don't label Anderson as just another pretty face. Chrissy Rutherford, Harper's BAZAAR, "Leomie Anderson Is The Newest Victoria's Secret Angel," 4 Apr. 2019 The boom of recent years may not return any time soon, but among beauty-industry stocks, Ulta is still more than just another pretty face. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "Ulta Has Cracked Beauty’s Secret," 21 Dec. 2018 This is your pretty standard granola, which is a good thing in my book. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "Never splurge on fancy granola again with these 7 recipes to make it at home," 14 Sep. 2019 All her music videos feature some pretty iconic moments. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Billie Eilish Shared a Gross BTS Moment From the "All Good Girls Go To Hell" Music Video," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The first was experiencing a pretty incredible evening of music. Jerald Pierce, chicagotribune.com, "Review: As a musical about mental illness, ‘Tru’ at Stage 773 falls short," 15 Nov. 2019 All signs point to our being pretty serious come spring. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "Ask Alex: Is It Ever Okay to Ask for a Plus-One at a Wedding?," 12 Nov. 2019 Of course, some kidney stones can cause pretty miserable symptoms. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "7 Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Stones You Need to Know," 12 Nov. 2019 When UConn has ventured far from home this season, the results haven’t typically been pretty. Alex Putterman, courant.com, "UConn football faces road challenge against surging, nationally ranked Cincinnati team," 9 Nov. 2019 There is growing concern about scams using bank-to-bank transactions, which can be made pretty much instantly using Britain’s faster payments system. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "Britain’s digital payments have gotten too fast," 6 Nov. 2019 The pastel pink house is pretty as a picture, with spring green shutters and ivy crawling up every surface. Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Most Beautiful Places in France," 5 Nov. 2019 Interestingly, users who comment on the photos without some feedback or specific comment about the look—but rather type a comment about how pretty the person in the photo is—get downvoted. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "How Reddit Birthed a Community of Digital Vigilantes," 1 Nov. 2019 And yes, that mean deals on TVs, computers, shoes, slippers, furniture, clothing and pretty much every possible product in between. Jacob Krol, Noelle Ike And Banu Ibrahim, CNN Underscored, "Labor Day Sales 2019: Your A-Z guide to shop on Sunday," 1 Sep. 2019 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 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 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

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

17 Nov 2019

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
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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