- 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 for on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for prettiness
The choice suggests a woman with a modern definition of femininity, one in which power, swagger and prettiness easily coexist.Petraeus Affair Stereotypes: The General, The Flirt And The Harlot
November 15, 2012
Lurking not far beneath the prettiness lies the real Pagford—a dystopia that would take a wizard to set right.‘The Casual Vacancy’ Review: J.K. Rowling Cuts Loose From Harry Potter
September 27, 2012
She was self-aware, even, of the role her prettiness played in earning her admirers.The Amanda Knox Mystery
July 29, 2011
I feel much more now that all the fans, and particularly the lesbian fans of the show, savor the prettiness of the cast.Last of the Red-Hot Lesbians
March 5, 2009
She is taut with prettiness, and when she smiles, I am sure I can hear her jaw click, protesting the disruption.The Men on the Dais
January 2, 2009
Her prettiness, indeed, was chiefly in slender plumpness and bloom.Southern Lights and Shadows
And with that she went into raptures over the prettiness of the rooms.
For all her joy and all her prettiness, Naomi was a burden which only love could bear.The Scapegoat
This was something too remote from the prettiness of the nursery.Where Angels Fear to Tread
E. M. Forster
But Alston Choate, she saw, was not going to find it a road to prettiness.The Prisoner
- 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 prettiness
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.).
Idioms and Phrases with prettiness
In addition to the idioms beginning with pretty
- pretty as a picture
- pretty much
- pretty penny, a
- in a fix (pretty pickle)
- kettle of fish, pretty
- sitting pretty