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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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.15 1928:
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 21 Jul 2024 <>



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