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 for pretty

2–4. pleasant. 10. somewhat.

Synonym study

1. See beautiful.

Antonyms for pretty

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.




the act of a person or thing that sits.
a period of remaining seated, as in posing for a portrait or reading a book.
the space on or in which one sits, as in a church.
a brooding, as of a hen upon eggs; incubation.
the number of eggs on which a bird sits during a single hatching; clutch.
a session, as of a court or legislature.
the time or space allotted to the serving of a meal to a group, as aboard a ship.


(of a bird) occupying a nest of eggs for hatching.
of, for, or suited to sitting: a sitting area in the lobby.
holding an official position or office; occupying an appointed or elected seat; incumbent: a sitting pontiff.
in session or at work; active: a sitting legislature.


    sitting pretty, in an auspicious position: He's been sitting pretty since he got that new job.

Origin of sitting

Middle English word dating back to 1175–1225; see origin at sit1, -ing1, -ing2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for sitting pretty


British Dictionary definitions for sitting pretty


adjective -tier or -tiest

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

noun plural -ties

a pretty person or thing


informal fairly or moderately; somewhat
informal quite or very

verb -ties, -tying or -tied

(tr often foll by up) to make pretty; adorn
Derived Formsprettily, adverbprettiness, noun

Word Origin for pretty

Old English prættig clever; related to Middle Low German prattich obstinate, Dutch prettig glad, Old Norse prettugr cunning



a continuous period of being seatedI read his novel at one sitting
such a period in a restaurant, canteen, etc, where space and other facilities are limiteddinner will be served in two sittings
the act or period of posing for one's portrait to be painted, carved, etc
a meeting, esp of an official body, to conduct business
the incubation period of a bird's eggs during which the mother sits on them to keep them warm


in officea sitting Member of Parliament
(of a hen) brooding eggs
seatedin a sitting position
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 sitting 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.



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



"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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sitting pretty in Culture

sitting pretty

In a favorable position: “Abby finally got that promotion, and now she's sitting pretty.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with sitting pretty

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

also see:

  • in a fix (pretty pickle)
  • kettle of fish, pretty
  • sitting pretty
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.