Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PRETTY, adj. Also pretti(e), pritty (Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 144); praitie (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.), pratie; pratty (m.Sc. 1906 J. A. Harvie-Brown Fauna Tay 147); prot(t)y, prottie; perty (Cai. 1869 M. McLennan Peasant Life 278), purty (Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin 82, Cai. 1929), phs. from Ir. or Amer. influence. Sc. forms and usages: [′prɛtɪ; †prɑtɪ, ne.Sc. ‡prote]

1. As in Eng. Combs. pretti-dancers, the aurora, see Dancers; pretty Nansy, see Nansy.

2. (1) Of persons in general: fine, good-looking, having an impressive and dignified bearing (Abd. 1928); specif. of men: courageous, gallant, manly (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 52; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Slk. 1966); of women: well-built, buxom, upstanding (Abd.4 1931, prottie; ne.Sc. 1966). Sc. 1730  T. Boston Memoirs (1852) 149:
As he was always a proper child, so he is this day a very stately and pretty man.
ne.Sc. 1791  Caled. Mercury (29 Sept.):
My proty, lusty, soncy, gaucy, Kyn', couthy, canty, cadgy lassie.
Sc. 1824  Scott Redgauntlet Letter xi.:
He gaed out with other pretty men in the forty-five.
Abd. 1832  A. Beattie Poems 157:
Ranks o' protty Highlandmen, In Highland garb, clad cap-a-pee.
Sc. 1872  E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 199:
He was much affected, and all the way home was heard to exclaim, “Oh! I hae seen the pretty man.” This referred to his seeing the Lord Jesus, whom he had approached in the sacrament.
Sc. 1886  Stevenson Kidnapped xx.:
To be feared of a thing and yet to do it, is what makes the prettiest kind of a man.
Sh. 1886  J. Burgess Sk. & Poems 108:
We wir fower pratie folk — nane o' dis wisened-up bits o' things 'at dey ca' folk noo-a-days, da maist o' dem claes.
Arg. 1896  N. Munro Lost Pibroch 56:
Smashing a pretty man's face with a blow from the iron guard of his Ferrara sword.
Ags. 1903  T. Fyfe Lintrathen 31:
A stalwart fellow of six feet four in his stockings, and stout in proportion — what the Scots term “a very pretty man.”
Abd. 1928 15 :
Ay, she's a prottie chullie, an' a solid wacht.

(2) of animals: well-grown, well-developed, sturdy, well-bred, in good condition, fine (Abd. 1925, protty; Sh., ne.Sc. 1966); of things: well-made, of good quality or finish, attractive, splendid (I. and n.Sc. 1966). Abd. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 90:
I wyt they are as protty hose As came frae weyr or leem.
Bnff. 1872  W. Philip It 'ill a' come Richt 126:
Maggie. “It's a protty efterneen”. Martha. “Very pretty.”
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 171:
Aw see ye hae ae protty soo there.
Abd. 1936  D. Bruce Cried on Sunday 8:
Ye'll hae a lot o' protty eggs yersel', I'se warr'n?

3. Small in size, little, dainty, neatly-made. n.Sc. 1808  Jam.:
A pretty man, a little man.

[O.Sc. prottie, pretty, 1614, Mid.Eng. prati, O.E. prættig. For variant forms of the root see Prat and R, letter.]

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"Pretty adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Mar 2018 <>



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