- pleasing or attractive to the eye, as by delicacy or gracefulness: a pretty face.
- (of things, places, etc.) pleasing to the eye, especially without grandeur.
- pleasing to the ear: a pretty tune.
- pleasing to the mind or aesthetic taste: He writes pretty little stories.
- (often used ironically) fine; grand: This is a pretty mess!
- Informal. considerable; fairly great: This accident will cost him a pretty sum.
- Archaic or Scot.. brave; hardy.
- Usually pretties. pretty ornaments, clothes, etc.
- a pretty person: Sit down, my pretty.
- fairly or moderately: Her work was pretty good.
- quite; very: The wind blew pretty hard.
- Informal. prettily.
- to make pretty; improve the appearance of (sometimes followed by up): to pretty oneself for a party; to pretty up a room.
- sitting pretty, Informal.
- in an advantageous position.
- well-to-do; successful.
Origin of pretty
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for prettily
She laughed her little laugh of pleasure, and thanked him prettily for the compliment.Viviette
William J. Locke
The room itself was prettily furnished in the Dutch fashion, and there were flowers.Roden's Corner
Henry Seton Merriman
Pile them prettily on a dish, and decorate them with holly leaves.The Skilful Cook
But why, as you have begun your argument so prettily, do you not go on with the rest?Eryxias
An Imitator of Plato
This being Whit Sunday, the interior of the church was prettily decorated.The Last Voyage
Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey
- pleasing or appealing in a delicate or graceful way
- dainty, neat, or charming
- commendable; good of its kindhe replied with a pretty wit
- informal, often ironic excellent, grand, or finehere's a pretty mess!
- informal lacking in masculinity; effeminate; foppish
- Scot vigorous or brave
- an archaic word for elegant
- a pretty penny informal a large sum of money
- sitting pretty informal well placed or established financially, socially, etc
- a pretty person or thing
- informal fairly or moderately; somewhat
- informal quite or very
- (tr often foll by up) to make pretty; adorn
Word Origin and History for prettily
Old English prættig (West Saxon), pretti (Kentish), *prettig (Mercian) "cunning, skillful, artful, wily, astute," from prætt, *prett "a trick, wile, craft," from West Germanic *pratt- (cf. Old Norse prettr "a trick," prettugr "tricky;" Frisian pret, Middle Dutch perte, Dutch pret "trick, joke," Dutch prettig "sportive, funny," Flemish pertig "brisk, clever"), of unknown origin.
Connection between Old English and Middle English words is uncertain, but if they are the same, meaning had shifted by c.1400 to "manly, gallant," and later moved via "attractive, skillfully made," to "fine," to "beautiful in a slight way" (mid-15c.). Ironical use from 1530s. For sense evolution, compare nice, silly. Also used of bees (c.1400). "After the OE. period the word is unknown till the 15th c., when it becomes all at once frequent in various senses, none identical with the OE., though derivable from it" [OED].
Meaning "not a few, considerable" is from late 15c. With a sense of "moderately," qualifying adjectives and adverbs, since 1560s. Pretty please as an emphatic plea is attested from 1902. A pretty penny "lot of money" is first recorded 1768.
"a pretty person or thing," 1736, from pretty (adj.).