pretty

Use the word pretty to describe something with a delicate and pleasant appearance. Something that’s pretty is less powerful and intimidating than something that’s beautiful, the way a pretty floral raincoat is less intimidating than a beautiful film star.

The adjective pretty describes things that look nice, but it can also be used jokingly to say that something’s bad. If you say, “That’s a pretty mess you got me into!” that means it’s a bad mess. Pretty has an adverb form that means something is present to a moderate degree, another way to say fairly. You might be pretty sure you’ll be done studying by 9:00. That means you’re fairly certain but not positive.

Primary Meanings of pretty

1.
adjadv
pleasing by delicacy or grace; not imposing
to a moderately sufficient extent or degree
2.
adj
(used ironically) unexpectedly bad
Full Definitions of pretty
1

adj pleasing by delicacy or grace; not imposing

pretty girl”
pretty song”
pretty room”
Synonyms:
beautiful
delighting the senses or exciting intellectual or emotional admiration

adv to a moderately sufficient extent or degree

pretty big”
pretty bad”
Synonyms:
fairly, jolly, middling, moderately, passably, reasonably, somewhat
Antonyms:
immoderately, unreasonably
to a degree that exceeds the bounds or reason or moderation
2

adj (used ironically) unexpectedly bad

“a pretty mess”
“a pretty kettle of fish”
Synonyms:
bad
having undesirable or negative qualities

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.