from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Pleasing or attractive in a graceful or delicate way. synonym: beautiful.
  • adjective Clever; adroit.
  • adjective Very bad; terrible.
  • adjective Ostensibly or superficially attractive but lacking substance or conviction.
  • adjective Informal Considerable in size or extent.
  • adverb To a fair degree; moderately.
  • adverb In a pretty manner; prettily or pleasingly.
  • noun One that is pretty.
  • noun Delicate clothing, especially lingerie.
  • transitive verb To make pretty.
  • idiom (pretty much) For the most part; mostly.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Moderately; reasonably; tolerably: expressing a degree less than very: as, a farm pretty well stocked; pretty good lodgings; I am pretty sure of the fact.
  • Crafty; cunning; clever; shrewd; keen.
  • Strong and bold; warlike; accomplished in arms.
  • Comely; handsome; good-looking; hence, in later use, pleasing to the esthetic sense; attractive through grace, elegance, neatness, harmony of parts, or delicacy of outline or coloring; having delicate beauty; pleasing the eye or ear rather than impressing the mind: as, a pretty face; a pretty cottage; a pretty picture.
  • Hence Affectedly neat or fastidious about one's personal appearance; finical; foppish.
  • Pleasing in general; pleasing to the mind; interesting; entertaining; gratifying.
  • Excellent; good; fine; nice: said loosely, like fine and nice, of almost any object or action as a general term of commendation, and also, like fine and nice, often used ironically, especially in exclamatory sentences.
  • Good or sufficient; moderately large in quantity, number, extent, duration, etc.; considerable.
  • A term of endearment, supplying the place of a diminutive.
  • Synonyms Handsome, Fair, etc. See beautiful.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adverb In some degree; moderately; considerably; rather; almost; -- less emphatic than very
  • adjective Pleasing by delicacy or grace; attracting, but not striking or impressing; of a pleasing and attractive form a color; having slight or diminutive beauty; neat or elegant without elevation or grandeur; pleasingly, but not grandly, conceived or expressed
  • adjective Moderately large; considerable.
  • adjective Affectedly nice; foppish; -- used in an ill sense.
  • adjective Mean; despicable; contemptible; -- used ironically
  • adjective Scot. Stout; strong and brave; intrepid; valiant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adverb Somewhat, fairly, quite; sometimes also (by meiosis) very.
  • noun Something that is pretty.
  • verb To make pretty; to beautify

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adverb to a moderately sufficient extent or degree
  • adjective pleasing by delicacy or grace; not imposing
  • adjective (used ironically) unexpectedly bad


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English prety, clever, fine, handsome, from Old English prættig, cunning, from prætt, trick.]


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  • pleasing by delicacy or grace; not imposing.

    October 31, 2007