1

Here is a quote from Peter Benchley’s Jaws: “That’s a pretty shitty trick.”

I would like to know how common this expression is in English, and under what circumstances/instances is used. (That is, what exactly it means and what ironic degree do we have here).

I know that “pretty” can be used ironically, but to me as a non native, it sounds pretty odd.

So, would you please explain it in detail so that I can get a better understanding?

3

In this quote pretty is an informal intensifier meaning "very". It strengthens the following adjective, shitty, which is an informal and rude word with a negative meaning, here expressing that Harry's trick was reprehensible.

I don't think any irony is involved here.

  • Thank you so much, so, it’s rudeness not irony! Duly noted! – Lucian Sava Apr 10 '14 at 7:59
  • 2
    I think OP was confused because some dictionaries list "pretty" being used ironically: See sense 2. I think you should make a distinction between ironic pretty and adverbial pretty as an addendum. – Helix Quar Apr 10 '14 at 8:01
  • 1
    @LucianSava "pretty" is not rude in itself - it's the "shitty" here that is rude! One can say, for example, "That was a pretty good movie". It's a soft intensifier - it wasn't a great movie, but it was better than good! – nxx Apr 10 '14 at 13:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.