Definition of pretty in US English:



  • 1Attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful or handsome.

    ‘a pretty little girl with an engaging grin’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She was disgustingly pretty, with beautiful sapphire eyes and smooth complexion.’
    • ‘She was pretty, in a delicate sort of way, but there was something earthy about her.’
    • ‘The boys in the whole town are crazy about her since she is so pretty and many girls hate her.’
    • ‘Who'd want to be like a man when they can be lovely pretty girls?’
    • ‘One night I ran into a pretty girl who seemed to think I was attractive.’
    • ‘He blamed it on the fact that he was a naturally shy person, around pretty girls especially.’
    • ‘He even used to note down who sat in which carriage, and what people wore, especially pretty girls.’
    • ‘If he hadn't known her there was no cheating, just him being a man attracted to a pretty woman.’
    • ‘The guy gave in; he couldn't say no to that pretty girl in the nice dress.’
    • ‘He really did think that she was pretty and would be beautiful if she dressed up a bit.’
    • ‘Good thing it's nice outside and there are pretty girls walking past.’
    • ‘He didn't know how he'd ever gotten a nice, pretty girl like her to talk to him.’
    • ‘She was very shy and she didn't understand what a lovely, pretty girl she was.’
    • ‘She was around twelve, a fair pretty girl with coffee hair and soft hazel eyes.’
    • ‘It was a computerised person, a pretty female with a high pitched, girl voice.’
    • ‘The Arabic language is beautiful, girls are pretty, men are men - and the land is the land.’
    • ‘Met a really nice and pretty girl on the train home tonight, a student at Portsmouth Uni studying marketing.’
    • ‘Except for when they told her she was pretty and could attract any guy she wanted.’
    • ‘People always look at pretty women as not very smart, so you have to do double to prove them wrong.’
    attractive, lovely, good-looking, nice-looking, fetching, prepossessing, appealing, charming, delightful, nice, engaging, pleasing
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    1. 1.1informal attributive 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’
      • ‘Played in horrible conditions with gusting gales and sweeping rain this was never going to be a pretty affair.’
      • ‘With the wind dominating affairs this was never going to be a day for pretty rugby.’
      • ‘This was far from a pretty affair; in fact it was downright ugly.’
      • ‘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.’


  • To a moderately high degree; fairly.

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

    ‘he buys her lots of pretties—bangles and rings and things’
    • ‘I also saw necklaces, many pretties and some uglies too!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 Used to refer in a condescending way to an attractive person, usually a girl or a woman.
      ‘six pretties in sequined leotards’
      • ‘In today's pop culture the pretties fight back.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


[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.’
    • ‘Considering James Dean in like manner, I ended up with a corpulent, bald and bespectacled Rod Steiger, perhaps prettied up a bit.’
    • ‘If the boss was coming on a store visit, they were busy prettying the place up.’
    • ‘The Temple Walk is between potato fields which was a bit disappointing but they were prettied by bee-friendly blue borage.’
    • ‘One, it's Venice, which doesn't need to be prettied up.’
    • ‘I had always hated prettying myself up for the public, and then, amongst the upper crust, I found my inner mood sourer than ever.’
    • ‘Were the amateurs doing science, or just prettying up the pictures?’
    • ‘And they prettied it up, designing an interface that displayed hundreds of headlines and photos but that was still easy to navigate.’
    • ‘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 knew that the film was a sanitised version but I had no idea just how much they prettied it up.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Our contribution is being prettied up to make it appear that all our soldiers will be doing is helping rebuild communities.’
    • ‘These rapidly built, but artistically maligned buildings are now prettied up with decorative flourishes and used for museums and churches.’
    • ‘I won races, treated people nice, prettied myself up, wore sexy outfits, all that stuff.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Kingston's town centre rangers were busy prettying the borough last week by planting some 250 mature geraniums.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most of us wouldn't choose a career where everything we interact with is prettied up and dumbed down.’
    • ‘I didn't feel like getting too prettied up or anything.’
    beautify, make attractive, make pretty, prettify, pretty up, adorn, ornament, embellish, smarten, glamorize, prink, preen, primp
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  • 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.’
      • ‘I'm pretty well convinced a new table will be needed, too, or at least a different one.’
      • ‘The nose aromas are pretty well non-existent, with the merest hint of American oak.’
      • ‘Not that we're expecting any guests in the near future because we're pretty well booked up.’
      • ‘The porn they discovered when the boss closed, that was pretty much the last nail in the coffin.’
      • ‘We were pretty well informed that the proposal would go through without much of a problem.’
      • ‘Saudi is pretty well the only country that can turn a tap on and produce another couple of million barrels.’
      • ‘Spock is aloof with the rest of the crew, and it's pretty well reciprocated.’
      • ‘I won't of course, but I have pretty well made up my mind not to go on any more of these events.’
      • ‘When we asked we pretty well knew the answer but it was a salutary experience to see how candid they were.’
      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.

      • ‘One of my teachers bought her goddaughter some stock as a christening gift, it must be worth a pretty penny by now.’
      • ‘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 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 an emphatic or wheedling form of request.

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

    • informal Be in an advantageous position or situation.

      ‘if she could get sponsors, she would be sitting pretty’
      • ‘And when The New Yorker finally went into the black a few years ago, they were sitting pretty as well.’
      • ‘People sitting on their family homes will be sitting pretty, enjoying continued capital growth, but for developers, the story might be more grim.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Though we had won the case, the present government is sitting pretty on the issue.’
      • ‘Before he started asking questions, the government was 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?’
      • ‘In five or six years time we will be sitting pretty, believe me.’
      • ‘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, skillful, admirable, pleasing, nice’ has parallels in adjectives such as canny, fine, nice, etc..