Definition of pretty in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpridē/

adjective (prettier, prettiest)

1Attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful or handsome: a pretty little girl with an engaging grin
More example sentences
  • The Arabic language is beautiful, girls are pretty, men are men - and the land is the land.
  • If he hadn't known her there was no cheating, just him being a man attracted to a pretty woman.
  • She was disgustingly pretty, with beautiful sapphire eyes and smooth complexion.
attractive, lovely, good-looking, nice-looking, personable, fetching, prepossessing, appealing, charming, delightful, cute, as pretty as a picture;
Scottish  bonny
informal easy on the eye
literary beauteous
archaic fair, comely
1.1 [attributive] informal Used ironically in expressions of annoyance or disgust: it is a pretty state of affairs when a young fellow prefers the company of Italian fiddlers to taking possession of his own first command
More example sentences
  • Played in horrible conditions with gusting gales and sweeping rain this was never going to be a pretty affair.
  • The game began and for thirty minutes it wasn't a pretty affair by any stretch of the imagination.
  • A derby match is seldom a pretty affair, with so much at stake games become scrappy.


[as submodifier] informal
To a moderately high degree; fairly: he looked pretty fit for his age
More example sentences
  • Their match at Bad Blood was pretty decent and I enjoyed it to a certain degree.
  • It was a pretty bad injury, and it was pouring blood onto the already stained carpet.
  • Funny, she thought, his injuries looked pretty bad just ten minutes ago.
quite, rather, somewhat, fairly, reasonably, comparatively, relatively

noun (plural pretties)

1An attractive thing, typically a pleasing but unnecessary accessory: he buys her lots of pretties—bangles and rings and things
More example sentences
  • At first it looks kelpy, but underneath the rocks are split by narrow gullies and boulder caves, with lots of pretties to see.
  • I also saw necklaces, many pretties and some uglies too!
  • As promised, three trunks, several hatboxes, and a few normal-sized suitcases had been carefully placed in the center, Amy already working at the task of freeing those pretties and lovelies that rested within.
1.1Used to refer in a condescending way to an attractive person, usually a girl or a woman: six pretties in sequined leotards
More example sentences
  • This role will give Leo's career a shot in the arm, I feel, rather than sink him to a level of ordinary boy-toy pretties of the Tab, Rock, Troy milieu which Mr. Bailey eschews.
  • In today's pop culture the pretties fight back.
  • Charles, deciding that we had perhaps had enough surveying for one day, suggested we head to the back to look at the pretties, check out some leads and get back early for once.

verb (pretties, prettying, prettied)

[with object]
Make pretty or attractive: she’ll be all prettied up and ready to go in an hour
More example sentences
  • Kingston's town centre rangers were busy prettying the borough last week by planting some 250 mature geraniums.
  • If the boss was coming on a store visit, they were busy prettying the place up.
  • These rapidly built, but artistically maligned buildings are now prettied up with decorative flourishes and used for museums and churches.
beautify, make attractive, make pretty, prettify, adorn, ornament, smarten
informal do oneself up, titivate



pretty much (or nearly or well)

informal Very nearly: the case is pretty well over
More example sentences
  • The paraphrase has it that what we are saying is that the surface is pretty nearly bumpy, or very nearly bumpy, or extremely close to being bumpy.
  • The porn they discovered when the boss closed, that was pretty much the last nail in the coffin.
  • Not that we're expecting any guests in the near future because we're pretty well booked up.

a pretty penny

informal A large sum of money.
Example sentences
  • Leather garments can cost a pretty penny, so it's imperative that you know how to care for them.
  • I am considering auctioning off those tickets - which would fetch a pretty penny - and donating the money to charity.
  • The film was produced for the sole purpose of making a pretty penny.
a lot of money, millions, billions, a king's ransom
informal a (small) fortune, lots/heaps of money, a mint, a killing, a bundle, a tidy sum, big money, big bucks, an arm and a leg

pretty please

Used as an emphatic or wheedling form of request.
Example sentences
  • She told them the problem, passed out a few free tickets and asked them - pretty please - could they find quieter tasks to do during her Wednesday matinees?
  • We can't imagine they'll be too fussed about receiving a letter asking them very nicely to appear in court at some stage, at their convenience, if it's not too much trouble, pretty please?
  • Anyone I know reading this, please come with me, pretty please…

be sitting pretty

informal Be in an advantageous position or situation: if she could get sponsors, she would be sitting pretty
More example sentences
  • And when The New Yorker finally went into the black a few years ago, they were sitting pretty as well.
  • Before he started asking questions, the government was sitting pretty.
  • Though we had won the case, the present government is sitting pretty on the issue.



Pronunciation: /ˈpridilē/
Example sentences
  • Well-known film actresses often posed prettily in elegant cheongsams against the backdrop of idealized gardens or home settings.
  • As for the ham - you can serve it rolled up prettily on top.
  • Many of its spurs are prettily sunlit, and what they build up to is inspiring, apocalyptic, a burst of slanting sunbeams from a blue cloud-window.


Pronunciation: /ˈpridēnəs/
Example sentences
  • Because tropical beaches have such inherent prettiness, finding attractive compositions isn't hard.
  • At low tide, large areas dry into plains of black mud before the tide restores the creeks to their picture-postcard prettiness.
  • She was probably even more beautiful than her cousin, not the bright prettiness like her cousin, but this deep alluring beauty.


Example sentences
  • A prettyish girl, somewhere on the plump-curvy continuum, she dyed her hair a too-brash blonde, and years of peroxide abuse had reduced it to a frizzy, frazzled mess.
  • A very thin, prettyish girl in black trousers and a top took me to a conference room.


Old English prættig; related to Middle Dutch pertich 'brisk, clever', obsolete Dutch prettig 'humorous, sporty', from a West Germanic base meaning 'trick'. The sense development 'deceitful, cunning, clever, skillful, admirable, pleasing, nice' has parallels in adjectives such as canny, fine, nice, etc..

  • In his diary entry for 11 May 1660, Samuel Pepys mentions ‘Dr Clerke, who I found to be a very pretty man and very knowing’. Pepys meant that the doctor was admirable, ‘a fine fellow’. This is merely one of the many senses that pretty, a word that comes from a root meaning ‘trick’, has had over the centuries. The first was ‘cunning, crafty’, which was followed by ‘clever, skilful’, ‘brave’, and ‘admirable, pleasing’ before the main modern sense, ‘attractive’ appeared in the 15th century, each step in itself easily followed, even if the modern sense has come a long way from the original. Around that time the meaning ‘considerable, great’ also developed, which is now only found in a pretty penny. Pretty has been used as an adverb in the sense ‘fairly, moderately’, since the mid 16th century. Sitting pretty, ‘comfortably placed or well situated’, is originally American, and is first recorded in 1915.

Words that rhyme with pretty

banditti, bitty, chitty, city, committee, ditty, gritty, intercity, kitty, megacity, nitty-gritty, Pitti, pity, slitty, smriti, spitty, vittae, witty

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pret·ty

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