9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[prit-ee] /ˈprɪt i/
adjective, prettier, prettiest.
pleasing or attractive to the eye, as by delicacy or gracefulness:
a pretty face.
(of things, places, etc.) pleasing to the eye, especially without grandeur.
pleasing to the ear:
a pretty tune.
pleasing to the mind or aesthetic taste:
He writes pretty little stories.
(often used ironically) fine; grand:
This is a pretty mess!
Informal. considerable; fairly great:
This accident will cost him a pretty sum.
Archaic or Scot. brave; hardy.
noun, plural pretties.
Usually, pretties. pretty ornaments, clothes, etc.
a pretty person:
Sit down, my pretty.
fairly or moderately:
Her work was pretty good.
quite; very:
The wind blew pretty hard.
Informal. prettily.
verb (used with object), prettied, prettying.
to make pretty; improve the appearance of (sometimes followed by up):
to pretty oneself for a party; to pretty up a room.
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
prettily, adverb
prettiness, noun
prettyish, adjective
unprettily, adverb
unprettiness, noun
unpretty, adjective
1. See beautiful. 2–4. pleasant. 10. somewhat.
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for prettiest
  • Some of the prettiest snow crystals are the ones that have this little hexagon shaped ice prism as their foundation.
  • Catfish, as seen in nature, are not the prettiest creatures.
  • Blennies aren't the prettiest of nature's creatures.
  • Seeing friends and hanging out in one of the prettiest settings makes the event memorable year after year.
  • The boxes will be by far the prettiest part of my car which looks kind of shabby in comparison.
  • It was altogether charming, but the prettiest thing of all was a little maiden standing at the open door of the castle.
  • Not the prettiest place but makes up for it in the chow.
  • Autumn, when sugar maples kindle into color, may be the prettiest time to visit.
  • Then she tucked in the sheets and put her prettiest quilt on the bed.
  • Prizes will be awarded to best homemade kites, highest flying kites, prettiest kites and kites with the longest tails.
British Dictionary definitions for prettiest


adjective -tier, -tiest
pleasing or appealing in a delicate or graceful way
dainty, neat, or charming
commendable; good of its kind: he replied with a pretty wit
(informal, often ironic) excellent, grand, or fine: here's a pretty mess!
(informal) lacking in masculinity; effeminate; foppish
(Scot) vigorous or brave
an archaic word for elegant
(informal) a pretty penny, a large sum of money
(informal) sitting pretty, well placed or established financially, socially, etc
noun (pl) -ties
a pretty person or thing
(informal) fairly or moderately; somewhat
(informal) quite or very
verb -ties, -tying, -tied
(transitive) often foll by up. to make pretty; adorn
Derived Forms
prettily, adverb
prettiness, noun
Word Origin
Old English prættig clever; related to Middle Low German prattich obstinate, Dutch prettig glad, Old Norse prettugr cunning
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
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Word Origin and History for prettiest



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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for prettiest



Quite; more than a little: The weather's pretty rotten (1565+)

Related Terms

be sitting pretty

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with prettiest
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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