pretty
Pronunciation
  • (British, America) IPA: /ˈpɹɪti/
  • (America, dialectal) IPA: /ˈpɝti/
  • (America, rare) IPA: /ˈpɹʊti/
Adjective

pretty (comparative prettier, superlative prettiest)

  1. Pleasant to the sight or other senses; attractive, especially of women or children, but less strikingly than something beautiful. [from 15th c.]
    • 2010, Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 4 Feb 2010:
      To escape a violent beating from sailors to whom he has sold a non-functioning car, Jerry takes his stepfamily for a holiday in a trailer park miles away, where, miraculously, young Nick meets a very pretty young woman called Sheeni, played by Portia Doubleday.
  2. Of objects or things: nice-looking, appealing. [from 15th c.]
    • 2010, Lia Leendertz, The Guardian, 13 Feb 2010:
      'Petit Posy' brassicas […] are a cross between kale and brussels sprouts, and are really very pretty with a mild, sweet taste.
  3. (often pejorative) Fine-looking; only superficially attractive; initially appealing but having little substance; see petty. [from 15th c.]
    • 1962, "New Life for the Liberals", Time, 28 Sep 1962:
      Damned by the Socialists as "traitors to the working class," its leaders were decried by Tories as "faceless peddlers of politics with a pretty little trinket for every taste."
  4. Cunning; clever, skilful. [from 9th c.]
  5. (dated) Moderately large; considerable. [from 15th c.]
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: […], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970 ↗, partition I, section 2, member 4, subsection vii:
      they flung all the goods in the house out at the windows into the street, or into the sea, as they supposed; thus they continued mad a pretty season […].
    • 2004, "Because They're Worth it", Time, 26 Jan 04:
      "What did you do to your hair?" The answer could be worth a pretty penny for L'Oreal.
  6. (dated) Excellent, commendable, pleasing; fitting or proper (of actions, thoughts etc.). [from 16th c.]
    • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma, Boston 1867, page 75:
      Some people are surprised, I believe, that that the eldest was not [named after his father], but Isabella would have him named Henry, which I thought very pretty of her.
    • 1919, Saki, ‘The Oversight’, The Toys of Peace:
      ‘This new fashion of introducing the candidate's children into an election contest is a pretty one,’ said Mrs. Panstreppon; ‘it takes away something from the acerbity of party warfare, and it makes an interesting experience for the children to look back on in after years.’
    • 1926, Ernest Hemingway, The sun also rises, page 251:
      "Oh, Jake." Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. "Yes", I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
  7. (ironic) Awkward, unpleasant. [from 16th c.]
    • 1931, "Done to a Turn", Time, 26 Jan 1931:
      His sadistic self-torturings finally landed him in a pretty mess: still completely married, practically sure he was in love with Tillie, he made dishonorable proposals of marriage to two other women.
    • 1877 "Black Beauty", Anna Sewell
      A pretty thing it would be if a man of business had to examine every cab-horse before he hired it
Antonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations Adverb

pretty (not comparable)

  1. Somewhat, fairly, quite; sometimes also (by meiosis) very.
    • 1723, Charles Walker, Memoirs of Sally Salisbury, V:
      By the Sheets you have sent me to peruse, the Account you have given of her Birth and Parentage is pretty exact [...].
    • 1859, Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, I:
      It seems pretty clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to the new conditions of life to cause any appreciable amount of variation [...].
    • 2002, Colin Jones (historian), The Great Nation, Penguin 2003, page 539:
      The Revolutionary decade was a pretty challenging time for business.
  2. (dialect) Prettily, in a pretty manner.
Translations Noun

pretty (plural pretties)

  1. A pretty person; a term of address to a pretty person.
    • 1939, Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf, ''The Wizard of Oz
      I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!
  2. Something that is pretty.
    We'll stop at the knife store and look at the sharp pretties.
Verb

pretty (pretties, present participle prettying; past and past participle prettied)

  1. To make pretty; to beautify

Pretty
Proper noun
  1. Surname



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