adjective, pret·ti·er, pret·ti·est.
noun, plural pret·ties.
verb (used with object), pret·tied, pret·ty·ing.
- pretty as a picture,
- pretty much,
- pretty penny, a,
- in an advantageous position.
- well-to-do; successful.
Origin of pretty
Origin of sitting
adjective -tier or -tiest
noun plural -ties
verb -ties, -tying or -tied
Word Origin for pretty
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.).
early 13c., verbal noun from sit (v.). Meaning "a meeting of a body" is from c.1400. Meaning "interval during which one sits" (for some purpose, especially to have one's portrait taken) is from 1706. Sitting-room first recorded 1771. Slang sitting duck "easy target" first recorded 1944; literal sense is from 1867 (it is considered not sporting to shoot at one).
In a favorable position: “Abby finally got that promotion, and now she's sitting pretty.”
In an advantageous position; also, financially well off. For example, The terms of the will left Mary sitting pretty. Although the use of pretty in the sense of “advantageous” is much older, this colloquialism dates only from the early 1900s. It was given extra currency as the title of two different musicals, Sittin' Pretty (M. Moore, 1921) and Sitting Pretty (G. Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, 1924).
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