Definition of pretty adverb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈprɪti//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈprɪti//
    (with adjectives and adverbs) (rather informal)
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  1. 1  to some extent; fairly I'm pretty sure I'll be going. The game was pretty good. It's pretty hard to explain. I'm going to have to find a new apartment pretty soon. Which Word?quite / fairly / rather / prettyLook at these examples: The exam was fairly difficult. The exam was quite difficult. The exam was rather difficult. Quite is a little stronger than fairly, and rather is a little stronger than quite. Rather is not very common in North American English; pretty has the same meaning and this is used in informal British English too:The exam was pretty difficult. In British English quite has two meanings:I feel quite tired today(= fairly tired). With adjectives that describe an extreme state (‘non-gradable’ adjectives) it means ‘completely’ or ‘absolutely’:I feel quite exhausted. With some adjectives, both meanings are possible. The speaker’s stress and intonation will show you which is meant:Your essay is quite good(= fairly good—it could be better);Your essay is quite good(= very good, especially when this is unexpected). In North American English quite usually means something like ‘very’, not ‘fairly’ or ‘rather’. Pretty is used instead for this sense.
  2. 2  very That performance was pretty impressive. Things are looking pretty good!
  3. Word OriginOld English prættig; related to Middle Dutch pertich ‘brisk, clever’, obsolete Dutch prettig ‘humorous, sporty’, from a West Germanic base meaning ‘trick’. The sense development ‘deceitful, cunning, clever, skilful, admirable, pleasing, nice’ has parallels in adjectives such as canny, fine, nice, etc.Extra examples Flying those planes was pretty hard work. I was pretty sure I’d seen the coin before. I was surprised to find my French was still pretty good. I’m afraid we’re going to have to go pretty soon. It came at the end of a pretty miserable week.Idioms (informal) to be in a good situation, especially when others are not With profits at record levels, the company’s certainly sitting pretty this year.
    pretty much/well (British English also pretty nearly) (North American English also pretty near)
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    (informal) almost; almost completely One dog looks pretty much like another to me. He goes out pretty well every night. The first stage is pretty near finished.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: pretty