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pretty

[prit-ee]
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adjective, pret·ti·er, pret·ti·est.
  1. pleasing or attractive to the eye, as by delicacy or gracefulness: a pretty face.
  2. (of things, places, etc.) pleasing to the eye, especially without grandeur.
  3. pleasing to the ear: a pretty tune.
  4. pleasing to the mind or aesthetic taste: He writes pretty little stories.
  5. (often used ironically) fine; grand: This is a pretty mess!
  6. Informal. considerable; fairly great: This accident will cost him a pretty sum.
  7. Archaic or Scot.. brave; hardy.
noun, plural pret·ties.
  1. Usually pretties. pretty ornaments, clothes, etc.
  2. a pretty person: Sit down, my pretty.
adverb
  1. fairly or moderately: Her work was pretty good.
  2. quite; very: The wind blew pretty hard.
  3. Informal. prettily.
verb (used with object), pret·tied, pret·ty·ing.
  1. to make pretty; improve the appearance of (sometimes followed by up): to pretty oneself for a party; to pretty up a room.
Idioms
  1. sitting pretty, Informal.
    1. in an advantageous position.
    2. well-to-do; successful.

Origin of pretty

before 1000; Middle English prati(e), pratte, prettie cunning, gallant, fine, handsome, pretty; Old English prættig, prettī cunning, derivative of prǣtt a trick, wile (cognate with Dutch part, pret trick, prank, Old Norse prettr trick, prettugr tricky)
Related formspret·ti·ly, adverbpret·ti·ness, nounpret·ty·ish, adjectiveun·pret·ti·ly, adverbun·pret·ti·ness, nounun·pret·ty, adjective

Synonyms

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2–4. pleasant. 10. somewhat.

Synonym study

1. See beautiful.

Antonyms

1. ugly.

Usage note

The qualifying adverb pretty, meaning “fairly or moderately” has been in general use since the late 16th century. Although most common in informal speech and writing, it is far from restricted to them, and often is less stilted than alternatives such as relatively, moderately, and quite.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for prettiness

pretty

adjective -tier or -tiest
  1. pleasing or appealing in a delicate or graceful way
  2. dainty, neat, or charming
  3. commendable; good of its kindhe replied with a pretty wit
  4. informal, often ironic excellent, grand, or finehere's a pretty mess!
  5. informal lacking in masculinity; effeminate; foppish
  6. Scot vigorous or brave
  7. an archaic word for elegant
  8. a pretty penny informal a large sum of money
  9. sitting pretty informal well placed or established financially, socially, etc
noun plural -ties
  1. a pretty person or thing
adverb
  1. informal fairly or moderately; somewhat
  2. informal quite or very
verb -ties, -tying or -tied
  1. (tr often foll by up) to make pretty; adorn
Derived Formsprettily, adverbprettiness, noun

Word Origin

Old English prættig clever; related to Middle Low German prattich obstinate, Dutch prettig glad, Old Norse prettugr cunning
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for prettiness

n.

1520s, from pretty + -ness.

pretty

adj.

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.

pretty

v.

1916, usually with up, from pretty (adj.). Related: Prettied; prettying. Cf. prettify.

pretty

n.

"a pretty person or thing," 1736, from pretty (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with prettiness

prettiness

In addition to the idioms beginning with pretty

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.