Pretty vs So - What's the difference?

pretty | so |

As an adjective pretty

is cunning; clever, skilful.

As an adverb pretty

is somewhat, fairly, quite; sometimes also (by meiosis) very.

As a noun pretty

is something that is pretty.

As a verb pretty

is to make pretty; to beautify.

As a pronoun so is




Alternative forms

* pooty (nonstandard) * purdy (nonstandard) * (l) (dialectal) * (l), (l) (obsolete)


  • Cunning; clever, skilful.
  • * 1877 , George Hesekiel and Bayard Taylor, Bismarck his Authentic Biography , page 380:
  • In the end, however, it was a very pretty shot, right across the chasm; killed first fire, and the brute fell headlong into the brook [...].
  • Pleasant in sight or other senses; attractive, especially of women or children.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1963, author=(Margery Allingham), title=(The China Governess)
  • , chapter=17 citation , passage=The face which emerged was not reassuring. […]. He was not a mongol but there was a deficiency of a sort there, and it was not made more pretty by a latter-day hair cut which involved eccentrically long elf-locks and oiled black curls.}}
  • * 2010 , Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian , 4 Feb 2010:
  • To escape a violent beating from sailors to whom he has sold a non-functioning car, Jerry takes his stepfamily for a holiday in a trailer park miles away, where, miraculously, young Nick meets a very pretty young woman called Sheeni, played by Portia Doubleday.
  • Of objects or things: nice-looking, appealing.
  • * 2010 , Lia Leendertz, The Guardian , 13 Feb 2010:
  • 'Petit Posy' brassicas [...] are a cross between kale and brussels sprouts, and are really very pretty with a mild, sweet taste.
  • * 1962 , "New Life for the Liberals", Time , 28 Sep 1962:
  • Damned by the Socialists as "traitors to the working class," its leaders were decried by Tories as "faceless peddlers of politics with a pretty little trinket for every taste."
  • (dated) Moderately large; considerable.
  • *, I.2.4.vii:
  • they flung all the goods in the house out at the windows into the street, or into the sea, as they supposed; thus they continued mad a pretty season […].
  • *
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients, chapter=1 , passage=A chap named Eleazir Kendrick and I had chummed in together the summer afore and built a fish-weir and shanty at Setuckit Point, down Orham way. For a spell we done pretty well. Then there came a reg'lar terror of a sou'wester same as you don't get one summer in a thousand, and blowed the shanty flat and ripped about half of the weir poles out of the sand.}}
  • * 2004 , "Because They're Worth it", Time , 26 Jan 04:
  • "What did you do to your hair?" The answer could be worth a pretty penny for L'Oreal.
  • (dated) Excellent, commendable, pleasing; fitting or proper (of actions, thoughts etc.).
  • * 1815 , (Jane Austen), Emma , Boston 1867, page 75:
  • Some people are surprised, I believe, that that the eldest was not [named after his father], but Isabella would have him named Henry, which I thought very pretty of her.
  • * 1919 , (Saki), ‘The Oversight’, The Toys of Peace :
  • ‘This new fashion of introducing the candidate's children into an election contest is a pretty one,’ said Mrs. Panstreppon; ‘it takes away something from the acerbity of party warfare, and it makes an interesting experience for the children to look back on in after years.’
  • * 1926 , (Ernest Hemingway), , page 251:
  • "Oh, Jake." Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. "Yes", I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
  • (ironic) Awkward, unpleasant.
  • * 1931 , "Done to a Turn", Time , 26 Jan 1931:
  • His sadistic self-torturings finally landed him in a pretty mess: still completely married, practically sure he was in love with Tillie, he made dishonorable proposals of marriage to two other women.


    * (ironic use: ) * 1995 , Les Standiford, Deal to die for , page 123: *: "[...] you can still see where the kid's face is swollen up from this talk: couple of black eyes, lip all busted up, nose over sideways," Driscoll shook his head again, "just a real pretty picture."


    * ugly

    Derived terms

    * just another pretty face * not a pretty sight * not just a pretty face * PDQ * prettify * prettiness * pretty as a picture * pretty boy * pretty-faced wallaby * Pretty Good Privacy * pretty much * pretty pass * pretty penny * pretty please * Pretty Polly * pretty-pretty * pretty-spoken * purdy * sitting pretty


  • Somewhat, fairly, quite; sometimes also (by meiosis) very.
  • * 1723 , Charles Walker, Memoirs of Sally Salisbury , V:
  • By the Sheets you have sent me to peruse, the Account you have given of her Birth and Parentage is pretty exact [...].
  • * 1859 , (Charles Darwin), The Origin of Species , I:
  • It seems pretty clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to the new conditions of life to cause any appreciable amount of variation [...].
  • * , chapter=1
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients, chapter=1 , passage=I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for. It twisted and turned, and, the first thing I knew, made a sudden bend around a bunch of bayberry scrub and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn.}}
  • * 2002 , , The Great Nation , Penguin 2003, page 539:
  • The Revolutionary decade was a pretty challenging time for business.

    Usage notes

    * When particularly stressed, the adverb (term) serves almost to diminish the adjective or adverb that it modifies, by emphasizing that there are greater levels of intensity.

    Derived terms

    * pretty much * pretty well


  • Something that is pretty.
  • "We'll stop at the knife store a look at the sharp pretties .
  • * 1939 , Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf, ''
  • I'll get you, my pretty , and your little dog, too!


  • To make pretty; to beautify
  • * {{quote-book, 2007, Eric Knight, Lassie Come-Home citation
  • , passage=He sat on the hearth rug and began prettying the dog's coat.}}

    Derived terms

    * pretty up



    (wikipedia so)


    (English Conjunctions)
  • In order that.
  • With the result that; for that reason; therefore.
  • * , chapter=1
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients, chapter=1 , passage=Thinks I to myself, “Sol, you're run off your course again. This is a rich man's summer ‘cottage’
  • (label) Provided that; on condition that, as long as.
  • * , II.18:
  • As we cal money not onely that which is true and good, but also the false; so it be currant.
  • * (John Milton)
  • Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength.

    Usage notes

    Chiefly in North American use, a comma or pause is often used before the conjunction when used in the sense with the result that''. (A similar meaning can often be achieved by using a semicolon or colon (without the ''so'' ), as for example: ''He drank the poison; he died. )


    * (in order that) so that, that


  • To the (explicitly stated) extent that.
  • * , chapter=1
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients, chapter=1 , passage=Thinks I to myself, “Sol, you're run off your course again. This is a rich man's summer ‘cottage’
  • * 1963 , Mike Hawker, (Ivor Raymonde) (music and lyrics), (Dusty Springfield) (vocalist), (I Only Want to Be with You) (single),
  • Don?t know what it is that makes me love you so , / I only know I never want to let you go.
  • (lb) To the (implied) extent.
  • [= this long]
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=2 , passage=We drove back to the office with some concern on my part at the prospect of so large a case. Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke.}}
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-20, volume=408, issue=8845, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Old soldiers? , passage=Whether modern, industrial man is less or more warlike than his hunter-gatherer ancestors is impossible to determine. The machine gun is so much more lethal than the bow and arrow that comparisons are meaningless.}}
  • # (lb) Very (positive clause).
  • #*
  • Captain Edward Carlisle; he could not tell what this prisoner might do. He cursed the fate which had assigned such a duty, cursed especially that fate which forced a gallant soldier to meet so' superb a woman as this under handicap ' so hard.
  • # (lb) Very (negative clause).
  • # Very much.
  • #*
  • Molly the dairymaid came a little way from the rickyard, and said she would pluck the pigeon that very night after work. She was always ready to do anything for us boys; and we could never quite make out why they scolded her so for an idle hussy indoors. It seemed so unjust.
  • In a particular manner.
  • In the same manner or to the same extent as aforementioned; also.
  • * 1883 , (Howard Pyle), (The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood)
  • *:"Good morrow to thee, jolly fellow," quoth Robin, "thou seemest happy this merry morn." ¶ "Ay, that am I," quoth the jolly Butcher, "and why should I not be so ? Am I not hale in wind and limb? Have I not the bonniest lass in all Nottinghamshire? And lastly, am I not to be married to her on Thursday next in sweet Locksley Town?"
  • * {{quote-news, year=2012, date=May 19, author=Paul Fletcher, work=BBC Sport
  • , title= Blackpool 1-2 West Ham , passage=It was a goal that meant West Ham won on their first appearance at Wembley in 31 years, in doing so becoming the first team since Leicester in 1996 to bounce straight back to the Premier League through the play-offs.}}
  • (with as) To such an extent or degree; as.
  • Usage notes

    Use of so''''' in the sense ''to the '''implied''' extent'' is discouraged in formal writing; spoken intonation which might render the usage clearer is not usually apparent to the reader, who might reasonably expect the ''extent'' to be made explicit. For example, the reader may expect ''He is '''so good'' to be followed by an explanation or consequence of how good ''he'' is. Devices such as use of underscoring and the exclamation mark may be used as a means of clarifying that the implicit usage is intended; capitalising ''SO'' is also used. The derivative subsenses ''very'' and ''very much are similarly more apparent with spoken exaggerated intonation. The difference between so'' and ''very'' in implied-extent usage is that ''very'' is more descriptive or matter-of-fact, while ''so'' indicates more emotional involvement. This ''so'' is used by both men and women, but more frequently by women. For example, ''she is very pretty'' is a simple statement of fact; ''she is so pretty'' suggests admiration. Likewise, ''that is very typical'' is a simple statement; ''that is SO typical of him!'' is an indictment. A formal (and reserved) apology may be expressed ''I am very sorry'', but after elbowing someone in the nose during a basketball game, a man might say, ''Dude, I am so sorry! in order to ensure that it's understood as an accident.Mark Liberman, "Ask Language Log: So feminine?", 2012 March 26


    * (very) really, truly, that, very * (to a particular extent) that, this, yea * (in a particular manner) like this, thus * really, truly, very much

    Derived terms

    * or so * so-so * so there * so what


    (en adjective)
  • True, accurate.
  • *
  • *:“My Continental prominence is improving,” I commented dryly. ¶ Von Lindowe cut at a furze bush with his silver-mounted rattan. ¶ “Quite so ,” he said as dryly, his hand at his mustache. “I may say if your intentions were known your life would not be worth a curse.”
  • In that state or manner; with that attribute. ((replaces the aforementioned adjective phrase))
  • * 1823 , , Martha
  • If this separation was painful to all parties, it was most so to Martha.
  • * 1872 , (Charles Dickens), J., The Personal History of (David Copperfield)
  • But if I had been more fit to be married, I might have made you more so too.
  • *
  • At twilight in the summeron the floor.
  • Homosexual.
  • Synonyms

    * (true) correct, right, true * musical, one of the family, one of them, that way inclined

    Derived terms

    * make it so * more so


    (en interjection)
  • * , chapter=11
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients , passage=So , after a spell, he decided to make the best of it and shoved us into the front parlor. 'Twas a dismal sort of place, with hair wreaths, and wax fruit, and tin lambrekins, and land knows what all.}}
  • Be as you are; stand still; used especially to cows; also used by sailors.
  • Noun

    (en noun)
  • (label) A syllable used in to represent the fifth note of a major scale.
  • Abbreviation

    (Abbreviation) (head)
  • someone
  • Synonyms

    * sb