sitting pretty


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.
in an advantageous position.
well-to-do; successful.

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)

prettily, adverb
prettiness, noun
prettyish, adjective
unprettily, adverb
unprettiness, noun
unpretty, adjective

1. See beautiful. 2–4. pleasant. 10. somewhat.

1. ugly.

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


the act of a person or thing that sits.
a period of remaining seated, as in posing for a portrait or reading a book.
the space on or in which one sits, as in a church.
a brooding, as of a hen upon eggs; incubation.
the number of eggs on which a bird sits during a single hatching; clutch.
a session, as of a court or legislature.
the time or space allotted to the serving of a meal to a group, as aboard a ship.
(of a bird) occupying a nest of eggs for hatching.
of, for, or suited to sitting: a sitting area in the lobby.
holding an official position or office; occupying an appointed or elected seat; incumbent: a sitting pontiff.
in session or at work; active: a sitting legislature.
sitting pretty, in an auspicious position: He's been sitting pretty since he got that new job.

1175–1225; Middle English; see sit1, -ing1, -ing2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pretty (ˈprɪtɪ)
adj , -tier, -tiest
1.  pleasing or appealing in a delicate or graceful way
2.  dainty, neat, or charming
3.  commendable; good of its kind: he replied with a pretty wit
4.  informal, ironic often excellent, grand, or fine: here's a pretty mess!
5.  informal lacking in masculinity; effeminate; foppish
6.  (Scot) vigorous or brave
7.  an archaic word for elegant
8.  informal a pretty penny a large sum of money
9.  informal sitting pretty well placed or established financially, socially, etc
n , -tier, -tiest, -ties
10.  a pretty person or thing
11.  informal fairly or moderately; somewhat
12.  informal quite or very
vb (often foll by up) , -tier, -tiest, -ties, -ties, -tying, -tied
13.  to make pretty; adorn
[Old English prættig clever; related to Middle Low German prattich obstinate, Dutch prettig glad, Old Norse prettugr cunning]

sitting (ˈsɪtɪŋ)
1.  a continuous period of being seated: I read his novel at one sitting
2.  such a period in a restaurant, canteen, etc, where space and other facilities are limited: dinner will be served in two sittings
3.  the act or period of posing for one's portrait to be painted, carved, etc
4.  a meeting, esp of an official body, to conduct business
5.  the incubation period of a bird's eggs during which the mother sits on them to keep them warm
6.  in office: a sitting Member of Parliament
7.  (of a hen) brooding eggs
8.  seated: in a sitting position

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. prættig (W.Saxon), *prettig (Mercian) "cunning, skillful, artful," from prætt, *prett "a trick, wile, craft," from W.Gmc. *pratt- (cf. O.N. prettr "a trick," prettugr "tricky;" Fris. pret, M.Du. perte, Du. pret "trick, joke," Du. prettig "sportive, funny," Flem. pertig "brisk, clever").
Connection between O.E. and M.E. 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" (1440). For sense evolution, compare nice, silly. Used to qualify adjectives and adverbs ("moderately") since 1565. As a verb (usually with up) it is attested from 1916. Prettily is from c.1400; prettify first recorded 1850. Pretty-boy is attested from 1885. A pretty penny "lot of money" is first recorded 1768.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

sitting pretty definition

In a favorable position: “Abby finally got that promotion, and now she's sitting pretty.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Sitting definition

the attitude generally assumed in Palestine by those who were engaged in any kind of work. "The carpenter saws, planes, and hews with his hand-adze, sitting on the ground or upon the plank he is planning. The washerwoman sits by the tub; and, in a word, no one stands when it is possible to sit. Shopkeepers always sit, and Levi sitting at the receipt of custom (Matt. 9:9) is the exact way to state the case.", Thomson, Land and Book.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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