Definition of pretty in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘She was pretty, in a delicate sort of way, but there was something earthy about her.’
    • ‘He didn't know how he'd ever gotten a nice, pretty girl like her to talk to him.’
    • ‘Except for when they told her she was pretty and could attract any guy she wanted.’
    • ‘One night I ran into a pretty girl who seemed to think I was attractive.’
    • ‘If he hadn't known her there was no cheating, just him being a man attracted to a pretty woman.’
    • ‘He even used to note down who sat in which carriage, and what people wore, especially pretty girls.’
    • ‘Met a really nice and pretty girl on the train home tonight, a student at Portsmouth Uni studying marketing.’
    • ‘She was around twelve, a fair pretty girl with coffee hair and soft hazel eyes.’
    • ‘The boys in the whole town are crazy about her since she is so pretty and many girls hate her.’
    • ‘She was very shy and she didn't understand what a lovely, pretty girl she was.’
    • ‘Good thing it's nice outside and there are pretty girls walking past.’
    • ‘Well, just as the person was beginning to do that, a pretty woman walks by and the guard looks at her and waves the guy on.’
    • ‘The guy gave in; he couldn't say no to that pretty girl in the nice dress.’
    • ‘People always look at pretty women as not very smart, so you have to do double to prove them wrong.’
    • ‘He blamed it on the fact that he was a naturally shy person, around pretty girls especially.’
    • ‘Who'd want to be like a man when they can be lovely pretty girls?’
    • ‘The Arabic language is beautiful, girls are pretty, men are men - and the land is the land.’
    • ‘She was disgustingly pretty, with beautiful sapphire eyes and smooth complexion.’
    • ‘He really did think that she was pretty and would be beautiful if she dressed up a bit.’
    • ‘It was a computerised person, a pretty female with a high pitched, girl voice.’
    attractive, lovely, good-looking, nice-looking, fetching, prepossessing, appealing, charming, delightful, nice, engaging, pleasing
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    1. 1.1 (of a thing) pleasing to the eye or the ear.
      ‘a pretty summer dress’
      • ‘Carina Round drops in to provide the prettiest of pretty harmonies and for just one song the world is at peace.’
      • ‘Or get right up to the minute with a lilac summer style with pretty paper flowers on the front for £34.99.’
      • ‘When two girls came in, in an effort to be polite he told one that the dress she wore was pretty.’
      • ‘She used her skill to please, with pretty, decorative painting, some of which adorns the ceilings of Burlington House.’
      • ‘Each child is bound to know many, along with a pretty song and maybe even a little dance.’
      • ‘The same held true for clothes - Mary had an intuitive understanding of the power of a pretty dress.’
      • ‘She liked pretty dresses and nice shoes and she enjoyed being a little lady.’
      • ‘Sorry lads, nothing against your pretty songs, but right now my teeth are gritted and the bright morning sun is in my eyes.’
      • ‘The song was pretty, and when he glanced at Alexandra she seemed to be focusing most of her mind on it.’
      • ‘That's not to say everyone's prancing around in pretty dresses and playing lutes in elven glens.’
      • ‘That morning she wore a pretty carnation pink dress, a belt clasped perfectly around her waist.’
      • ‘She has beautiful even skin and her hair is short and undyed, flecked pretty silver.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She watched the bird with interest, it's pretty song distracting her from what would soon be happening.’
      • ‘The lead singer wearing a pretty dress and summer sandals added to the airiness of their set.’
      • ‘The plant's foliage withers back during the summer while pretty, orange-red berries appear in the fall.’
      • ‘The sun shone above brightly and the birds sang pretty songs from their places in the blossoming cherry trees.’
      • ‘Originally quite a good song with a pretty melody it's now some drab techno.’
      • ‘She has a soft, pretty face and a sweet, unstrident Canadian voice.’
      • ‘I've got one really pretty party dress with a big butterfly on it.’
  • 2informal attributive Used ironically to express annoyance or displeasure.

    ‘he led me a pretty dance’
    • ‘With the wind dominating affairs this was never going to be a day for pretty rugby.’
    • ‘The last ten minutes was a scrappy, even bad-tempered, affair, which offered little in the way of pretty football.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This was far from a pretty affair; in fact it was downright ugly.’
    • ‘Played in horrible conditions with gusting gales and sweeping rain this was never going to be a pretty affair.’


  • To a moderately high degree; fairly.

    ‘he looked pretty fit for his age’
    ‘it was a pretty bad injury’
    • ‘He sent me quite a handsome apology for his abuse of me so I think he is a pretty decent sort, basically.’
    • ‘The great irony is that being so fit can be pretty unhealthy.’
    • ‘Aside from this, the video and audio transfer is fairly grainy and overall pretty horrible.’
    • ‘We were both in pretty bad situations to have started a serious relationship.’
    • ‘I think there are still people who don't realise that it does affect your life to a pretty serious degree.’
    • ‘As I say, this sort of relativism is pretty popular in certain circles.’
    • ‘Also, it's a pretty bad breakup, so I don't want to leave him with anything extra.’
    • ‘It is a good vintage and the prices are pretty reasonable in comparison to the 2000.’
    • ‘This morning's exam was not too bad at all - pretty straightforward.’
    • ‘Now, I've done data analysis before; I did a psychology degree so I'm pretty used to it.’
    • ‘Funny, she thought, his injuries looked pretty bad just ten minutes ago.’
    • ‘There were two pretty bad ones, but the worst injury was called a sucking chest wound.’
    • ‘Their match at Bad Blood was pretty decent and I enjoyed it to a certain degree.’
    • ‘My reasoning is that I actually have to be in a pretty bad mood to write this, as sad as that sounds.’
    • ‘The government plans to make students pay more for their education, but the price tag for a degree is already pretty hefty.’
    • ‘It was a pretty bad injury, and it was pouring blood onto the already stained carpet.’
    • ‘Yes, I think, if you are out in the country in England you can get some pretty bad food.’
    • ‘I think probably what was dangerous about him was that he was a frustrated poet and really a pretty bad psychiatrist.’
    • ‘Thanks again to everyone who came by and witnessed some pretty bad drunkenness.’
    • ‘Well, yes they did, and we agree that 50 billionths of a degree Kelvin sounds pretty chilly to us.’
    quite, rather, somewhat, fairly, reasonably, moderately, comparatively, relatively, tolerably, passably, adequately, satisfactorily, decently, respectably
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  • 1An attractive thing, especially a trinket.

    ‘he buys her lots of pretties—bangles and rings’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At first it looks kelpy, but underneath the rocks are split by narrow gullies and boulder caves, with lots of pretties to see.’
    • ‘Now Paradise isn't exactly Eden, yeah, it has a few pretties and it is quite big, but the walls are still coated in sticky mud and, if compared to other cave passage, you might conclude that it is more oppressive than most.’
    • ‘There is often some confusion as to the naming of these popular pretties since they have the botanical name of Rhododendron and are confused with what are commonly called Rhododendrons.’
    • ‘Roses have an allure that is difficult to ignore, and having long ago succumbed to the charms of these velvet pretties, I now take some time each spring to revel in their plush petals.’
    • ‘‘This is lovely,’ Sara whispered under her breath, but she was so awed by the lovelies and pretties displayed within the glass cases that she didn't notice much of the boutique.’
    1. 1.1 Used to refer in a condescending way to an attractive person.
      ‘six pretties in sequined leotards’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


[with object]
  • Make pretty or attractive.

    ‘she'll be all prettied up and ready to go in an hour’
    • ‘I prettied myself up and even wore an outfit that Suzi had purchased as a gag gift.’
    • ‘Some of it is tricky to navigate (it hasn't been prettied up yet) but I think it's worth a bit of your time.’
    • ‘I won races, treated people nice, prettied myself up, wore sexy outfits, all that stuff.’
    • ‘Kingston's town centre rangers were busy prettying the borough last week by planting some 250 mature geraniums.’
    • ‘I had always hated prettying myself up for the public, and then, amongst the upper crust, I found my inner mood sourer than ever.’
    • ‘Many of the same themes dominate in bathing suits, with bikinis leading the market but prettied up in charming flower prints, elegant stripes and bold patterns.’
    • ‘The Temple Walk is between potato fields which was a bit disappointing but they were prettied by bee-friendly blue borage.’
    • ‘I knew that the film was a sanitised version but I had no idea just how much they prettied it up.’
    • ‘The graphics have been prettied up, but the rest of the game has been completely moronized and user-friendlized to foot the bill of I-don't-know-who.’
    • ‘Considering James Dean in like manner, I ended up with a corpulent, bald and bespectacled Rod Steiger, perhaps prettied up a bit.’
    • ‘And they prettied it up, designing an interface that displayed hundreds of headlines and photos but that was still easy to navigate.’
    • ‘These rapidly built, but artistically maligned buildings are now prettied up with decorative flourishes and used for museums and churches.’
    • ‘Our contribution is being prettied up to make it appear that all our soldiers will be doing is helping rebuild communities.’
    • ‘I didn't feel like getting too prettied up or anything.’
    • ‘One, it's Venice, which doesn't need to be prettied up.’
    • ‘If the boss was coming on a store visit, they were busy prettying the place up.’
    • ‘Now, as another historical note, when I was a kid the most popular kind of lights were the big-bulb multi-colored ones, which didn't really have much class, but sure prettied up the living room.’
    • ‘Most of us wouldn't choose a career where everything we interact with is prettied up and dumbed down.’
    • ‘The good news is that Greg beat me here by a few days and had prettied the place up a bit, so I could find my mail, check my email, make coffee, and go take a nap.’
    • ‘Were the amateurs doing science, or just prettying up the pictures?’
    beautify, make attractive, make pretty, prettify, pretty up, adorn, ornament, embellish, smarten, glamorize, prink, preen, primp
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  • 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’
      • ‘Once again he proves he is not just a pretty face with his brilliant portrayal of Jack.’
      • ‘Her work certainly suggests she is far more than just a pretty face.’
      • ‘He was the one Hollywood legend who was more than just a pretty face.’
      • ‘This year he has finally proved once and for all that he's not just a pretty face.’
      • ‘Gradually we got to talking and I knew that she wasn't just a pretty face.’
      • ‘I wanted desperately to prove I was more than just a pretty face.’
  • pretty much (or nearly or well)

    • informal Very nearly.

      ‘the case is pretty well over’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Not that we're expecting any guests in the near future because we're pretty well booked up.’
      • ‘I'm pretty well convinced a new table will be needed, too, or at least a different one.’
      • ‘We were pretty well informed that the proposal would go through without much of a problem.’
      • ‘The nose aromas are pretty well non-existent, with the merest hint of American oak.’
      • ‘When we asked we pretty well knew the answer but it was a salutary experience to see how candid they were.’
      • ‘The porn they discovered when the boss closed, that was pretty much the last nail in the coffin.’
      • ‘I won't of course, but I have pretty well made up my mind not to go on any more of these events.’
      • ‘Spock is aloof with the rest of the crew, and it's pretty well reciprocated.’
      • ‘Saudi is pretty well the only country that can turn a tap on and produce another couple of million barrels.’
      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
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  • a pretty penny

    • informal A large sum of money.

      ‘that car must have cost a pretty penny’
      • ‘I am considering auctioning off those tickets - which would fetch a pretty penny - and donating the money to charity.’
      • ‘Leather garments can cost a pretty penny, so it's imperative that you know how to care for them.’
      • ‘The film was produced for the sole purpose of making a pretty penny.’
      • ‘One of my teachers bought her goddaughter some stock as a christening gift, it must be worth a pretty penny by now.’
      a lot of money, a fortune, a considerable sum of money, a vast sum of money, millions, billions, a king's ransom, a killing, a windfall, a bonanza
      a huge amount, a small fortune, a king's ransom, a vast sum, a large sum of money, a lot, a fortune, millions, billions
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  • pretty please

    • Used as a wheedling form of request.

      • ‘Anyone I know reading this, please come with me, pretty please…’
      • ‘Can you send us the recipe, James, pretty please?’
      • ‘On a more practical note: pretty please can you take the line-height parameter out of your style-sheet?’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘I still haven't figured out how to move my archives over here, but go ahead and change your bookmarks, pretty please.’
      • ‘But could you please, pretty please, stay out of the giant shadow of clichéd thought and words?’
      • ‘I don't know much about making websites, but I know I don't ever want to go through that again, so do you think you could pretty please install some kind of keyword search on the archives?’
      • ‘So pretty please, sign da guestbook to let me noe if u read my blog regularly?’
      • ‘Could you, pretty please, scan your autograph and post it on your site so that I could make sure?’
  • be sitting pretty

    • informal Be in an advantageous situation.

      ‘if she could get sponsors, she would be sitting pretty’
      • ‘Though we had won the case, the present government is sitting pretty on the issue.’
      • ‘In five or six years time we will be sitting pretty, believe me.’
      • ‘Before he started asking questions, the government was sitting pretty.’
      • ‘And when The New Yorker finally went into the black a few years ago, they were sitting pretty as well.’
      • ‘If we'd drawn three aces and two kings, we'd be sitting pretty.’
      • ‘On the surface it may look like the Federal government is sitting pretty.’
      • ‘If Grenada is in camp for two to three months and we can't even rally up one practice match who do you think is going to be sitting pretty at the end of the qualifying tournament?’
      • ‘Hopefully by the time we start the run-in (six games in April!) we'll still be sitting pretty in 17th spot with all to play for.’
      • ‘People sitting on their family homes will be sitting pretty, enjoying continued capital growth, but for developers, the story might be more grim.’
      • ‘And, if I ever tire of my collecting, I'll be sitting pretty.’


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..