pretty pass

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English[edit]

Noun[edit]

pretty pass (usually uncountable, plural pretty passes)

  1. (idiomatic, dated) An unsatisfactory situation.
    • 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, ch. 9:
      "Things have got to a pretty pass, if a woman can't give a warm supper and a bed to poor, starving creatures, just because they are slaves, and have been abused and oppressed all their lives, poor things!"
    • 1900, John Buchan, The Half-Hearted, ch. 29:
      The prisoner of unknown bandits, hurried he knew not whence, a pretty pass for an adventurer.
    • 1909, John Kendrick Bangs, The Autobiography of Methuselah, ch. 3:
      When any of his descendants chose to take him to task for the crudeness of his manners he was accustomed to look them coldly over and retort that things had come to a pretty pass when comparatively new people ventured to instruct the oldest of the old settlers as to what was or was not good form.
    • 2005 Feb. 15, Edward Fennell, "New migrant rules prompt City firms to worry about their own staff," The Times (UK) (retrieved 16 Jan 2014):
      Things have come to a pretty pass when a highly regarded City law firm does not know whether it is employing its own staff legally.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Usually used in the expression "come to a pretty pass".