Main Difference – Pretty vs Beautiful
Pretty and beautiful are two adjectives that are usually used to describe women. Although both adjectives are used to describe good looking women and girls, there is a subtle difference between pretty and beautiful. Beautiful is more complimentary than pretty as it refers to having qualities of beauty. This can be considered as the main difference between pretty and beautiful.
Pretty – Meaning and Usage
Although pretty and beautiful refer to good looks, there is a subtle difference between them. Pretty can be defined as attractive to look at in a simple or delicate way. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pretty as “having conventionally accepted elements of beauty” and Oxford dictionary defines it as “attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful”. Therefore, it is clear that although pretty is used to describe good looking women, it is not as complimentary as beautiful. We usually use this adjective to describe something that is pleasing to the eyes. For example,
The pretty little girl danced on the terrace.
She has a pretty face, but she is not very tall.
Daisy was wearing a pretty little dress.
You look very pretty in this dress.
Beautiful – Meaning and Usage
Beautiful refers to more than the pleasant appearance. According to Oxford dictionary, it means “pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically.” Merriam-Webster defines beautiful as “having qualities of beauty: exciting aesthetic pleasure”. It is interesting to note that both dictionaries use the word ‘aesthetic.’ Beautiful doesn’t just mean pleasing to the eye; it has a deeper meaning. In essence, being beautiful goes beyond the physical appearance. It can refer to the character, personality, mind, spirit, etc. as well. Note how this adjective has been used in the following sentences.
She has a beautiful singing voice.
Her almond shaped eyes were beautiful.
She is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.
He saw a beautiful young woman at the dock.
Helena has grown into a beautiful young lady.
Difference Between Pretty and Beautiful
Definition 1 (Oxford)
Pretty means to be attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful.
Beautiful means to be pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically.
Definition 2 (Merriam-Webster)
Pretty means “having conventionally accepted elements of beauty”.
Beautiful means “having qualities of beauty: exciting aesthetic pleasure”.
Pretty is mainly used to refer to people or things that are pleasing to the eye.
Beautiful can refer to a person’s qualities, character, personality, etc.
“Beautiful” by The Blue Diamond Gallery (CC BY-SA 3.0 NY)
“Pretty” by Wei Chang (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr