Definition of pretty in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprɪti/

adjective (prettier, prettiest)

1(Of a person, especially a woman or child) attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful: 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, fetching, prepossessing, appealing, charming, delightful, nice, engaging, pleasing;
darling, sweet, dear, adorable, lovable;
winning, winsome, cute, as pretty as a picture, dainty, graceful;
handsome, well favoured, personable, beautiful, glamorous, gorgeous, ravishing, stunning, bewitching, alluring;
Scottish & Northern English  bonny
informal easy on the eye, adorbs
literary beauteous
archaic fair, comely
1.1(Of a thing) pleasing to the eye or the ear: a pretty summer dress
More example sentences
  • The lead singer wearing a pretty dress and summer sandals added to the airiness of their set.
  • Or get right up to the minute with a lilac summer style with pretty paper flowers on the front for £34.99.
  • Is It Up to Me, a really pretty song, was taped live during a rehearsal at the Pyramid on one of those four track cassette jobs.
2 [attributive] informal Used ironically to express annoyance or displeasure: he led me a pretty dance
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, moderately, comparatively, relatively, tolerably, passably, adequately, satisfactorily, decently, respectably
informal kind of, sort of

noun (plural pretties)

1An attractive thing, especially a trinket: he buys her lots of pretties—bangles and rings
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: 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, pretty up, adorn, ornament, embellish, smarten, glamorize, prink, preen, primp;
put make-up on
informal do oneself up
British informal tart oneself up



be more than (or not) just a pretty face

Have qualities other than mere attractiveness, especially intelligence: he is not just a pretty face, he is both talented and charismatic she is intent on proving that she is not just a pretty face
More example sentences
  • This year he has finally proved once and for all that he's not just a pretty face.
  • He was the one Hollywood legend who was more than just a pretty face.
  • Her work certainly suggests she is far more than just a pretty face.

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.
nearly, almost, just about, about, more or less, practically, virtually, all but, as good as, next to, close to, near, nigh on, not far from, not far off, to all intents and purposes, approaching, bordering on, verging on, nearing;
roughly, approximately;
not quite
informal pretty nearly
literary well-nigh

a pretty penny

informal A large sum of money: that car must have cost a pretty penny
More 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, a fortune, a considerable/vast sum of money, millions, billions, a king's ransom, a killing, a windfall, a bonanza
informal a small fortune, lots/pots/heaps of money, a mint, a bundle, a packet, a wad, a pile, a stack, a heap, a tidy sum
telephone numbers
British informal a bomb, shedloads, a shedload
North American  big bucks, big money, gazillions
Australian informal big bickies, motser, motza
a huge amount, a small fortune, a king's ransom, a vast sum, a large sum of money, a lot, a fortune, millions, billions
informal a packet, a mint, a bundle, a pile, a wad, an arm and a leg, a tidy sum, a killing
British informal a bomb, loadsamoney, shedloads
North American informal big bucks, big money, gazillions
Australian informal big bickies

pretty please

Used as a 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 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: /ˈprɪtɪli/
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: /ˈprɪtɪnəs/
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, skilful, 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

Line breaks: pretty

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