From Middle English prety, preti, praty, prati, from Old English prættiġ (“tricky, crafty, sly, cunning, wily, astute”), from Proto-Germanic *prattugaz (“boastful, sly, slick, deceitful, tricky, cunning”), corresponding to prat (“trick”) + -y. Cognate with Dutch prettig (“nice, pleasant”), Low German prettig (“funny”), Icelandic prettugur (“deceitful, tricky”). For the semantic development, compare canny, clever, cute.
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɪti/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɪti/, [ˈpɹɪɾi]
Audio (US) (file)
- (US, dialectal) IPA(key): /ˈpɝti/
- (US, rare) IPA(key): /ˈpɹʊti/
- (US, dated or humerous) IPA(key): /ˈpɔɪti/
- Rhymes: -ɪti
- Pleasant to the sight or other senses; attractive, especially of women or children. [from 15th c.]
- 2010 February 4, Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:
- To escape a violent beating from sailors to whom he has sold a non-functioning car, Jerry takes his stepfamily for a holiday in a trailer park miles away, where, miraculously, young Nick meets a very pretty young woman called Sheeni, played by Portia Doubleday.
- Of objects or things: nice-looking, appealing. [from 15th c.]
- 2010 February 13, Lia Leendertz, The Guardian:
- 'Petit Posy' brassicas […] are a cross between kale and brussels sprouts, and are really very pretty with a mild, sweet taste.
- (often derogatory) Fine-looking; only superficially attractive; initially appealing but having little substance; see petty. [from 15th c.]
- 1962 September 28, “New Life for the Liberals”, in Time:
- Damned by the Socialists as "traitors to the working class," its leaders were decried by Tories as "faceless peddlers of politics with a pretty little trinket for every taste."
- (UK, sometimes derogatory) Effeminate.
- Cunning; clever, skilful. [from 9th c.]
- 1877, George Hesekiel, Bayard Taylor, Bismarck his Authentic Biography, page 380:
- In the end, however, it was a very pretty shot, right across the chasm; killed first fire, and the brute fell headlong into the brook […] .
- (dated) Moderately large; considerable. [from 15th c.]
- 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: […], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition I, section 2, member 4, subsection vii:
- they flung all the goods in the house out at the windows into the street, or into the sea, as they supposed; thus they continued mad a pretty season […].
- 2004 January 26, “Because They're Worth it”, in Time:
- "What did you do to your hair?" The answer could be worth a pretty penny for L'Oreal.
- (dated) Excellent, commendable, pleasing; fitting or proper (of actions, thoughts etc.). [from 16th c.]
- 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], Emma: […], volumes (please specify |volume=I, II or III), London: […] [Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, →OCLC:
- Some people are surprised, I believe, that that the eldest was not [named after his father], but Isabella would have him named Henry, which I thought very pretty of her.
- 1919, Saki, ‘The Oversight’, The Toys of Peace:
- ‘This new fashion of introducing the candidate's children into an election contest is a pretty one,’ said Mrs. Panstreppon; ‘it takes away something from the acerbity of party warfare, and it makes an interesting experience for the children to look back on in after years.’
- 1926, Ernest Hemingway, The sun also rises, page 251:
- "Oh, Jake." Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. "Yes", I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
- (ironic) Awkward, unpleasant. [from 16th c.]
- 1839, The Cottager's Monthly Visitor, volume 19, page 270:
- "Nay, not I; it is a pretty thing to expect me to wash them; you may take them back again, and say, as Sally had them before, she may wash them now, for me; I am not going to be 'Jack at a pinch,' I can tell you."
- 1877, Anna Sewell, Black Beauty:
- A pretty thing it would be if a man of business had to examine every cab-horse before he hired it
- 1931 January 26, “Done to a Turn”, in Time:
- His sadistic self-torturings finally landed him in a pretty mess: still completely married, practically sure he was in love with Tillie, he made dishonorable proposals of marriage to two other women.
- 1995, Les Standiford, Deal to die for, page 123:
- " […] you can still see where the kid's face is swollen up from this talk: couple of black eyes, lip all busted up, nose over sideways," Driscoll shook his head again, "just a real pretty picture."
- just another pretty face
- not a pretty sight
- not just another pretty face
- not just a pretty face
- play pretty
- pretty as a picture
- pretty as a speckled pup
- pretty boy
- pretty-faced wallaby
- Pretty Good Privacy
- pretty horsebreaker
- pretty much
- pretty pass
- pretty penny
- pretty pictures
- pretty please
- pretty police
- Pretty Polly
- sitting pretty
- stink pretty
- who's a pretty boy then
pretty (not comparable)
- Somewhat, fairly, quite; sometimes also (by meiosis) very.
- 1723, Charles Walker, Memoirs of Sally Salisbury, section V:
- By the Sheets you have sent me to peruse, the Account you have given of her Birth and Parentage is pretty exact [...].
- 1741, [Pierre] Bayle, “A Dissertation Concerning the Hippomanes”, in John Peter Bernard, Thomas Birch, John Lockman, et al., transl., A General Dictionary, Historical and Critical: […], volume X, London: […] James Bettenham, for G[eorge] Strahan, J. Clarke, […], →OCLC, page 361:
- 1859 November 24, Charles Darwin, chapter 1, in On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, […], London: John Murray, […], →OCLC:
- It seems pretty clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to the new conditions of life to cause any appreciable amount of variation [...].
- 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
- I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for. It twisted and turned, and, the first thing I knew, made a sudden bend around a bunch of bayberry scrub and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn.
- 2002, Colin Jones, The Great Nation, Penguin, published 2003, page 539:
- The Revolutionary decade was a pretty challenging time for business.
- (dialect) Prettily, in a pretty manner.
- 1861, George Eliot, Silas Marner, London: Penguin Books, published 1967, page 139:
- 'The boy sings pretty, don't he, Master Marner?'
- When particularly stressed, the adverb pretty serves almost to diminish the adjective or adverb that it modifies, by emphasizing that there are greater levels of intensity.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
pretty (plural pretties)
- A pretty person; a term of address to a pretty person.
- 1939, Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf, The Wizard of Oz:
- I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!
- Something that is pretty.
- We'll stop at the knife store and look at the sharp pretties.
- To make pretty; to beautify