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.

Definitions of pretty
  1. adjective
    pleasing by delicacy or grace; not imposing
    pretty girl”
    pretty song”
    pretty room”
    delighting the senses or exciting intellectual or emotional admiration
  2. adverb
    to a moderately sufficient extent or degree
    pretty big”
    pretty bad”
    synonyms: fairly, jolly, middling, moderately, passably, reasonably, somewhat
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    immoderately, unreasonably
    to a degree that exceeds the bounds or reason or moderation
  3. adjective
    (used ironically) unexpectedly bad
    “a pretty mess”
    “a pretty kettle of fish”
    having undesirable or negative qualities
Word Family