Nearby words

  1. pretrial,
  2. prettification,
  3. prettify,
  4. prettily,
  5. prettiness,
  6. pretty as a picture,
  7. pretty much,
  8. pretty penny, a,
  9. pretty-boy,
  10. pretty-pretty


    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 forms

Synonym study

1. See beautiful.

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.


[ sit-ing ]
/ ˈsɪt ɪŋ /



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

British Dictionary definitions for sitting pretty
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


/ (ˈsɪtɪŋ) /



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
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for sitting pretty

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.