pretend (n.) Look up pretend at
"fact of pretending," 1888, from children's talk, from pretend (v.). Earlier in same sense was verbal noun pretending (1640s).
pretended (adj.) Look up pretended at
mid-15c., "so-called," past participle adjective from pretend (v.).
pretender (n.) Look up pretender at
1590s, "one who intends;" 1620s as "one who puts forth a claim;" agent noun from pretend (v.). Specifically of a claimant to the English throne from 1690s.
pretense (n.) Look up pretense at
also pretence, early 15c., "the putting forth of a claim," from Anglo-French pretensse, Middle French pretensse (Modern French prétense), from Medieval Latin noun use of fem. of Late Latin praetensus, altered from Latin praetentus, past participle of praetendere (see pretend). Meaning "false or hypocritical profession" is from 1540s.
pretension (n.) Look up pretension at
mid-15c., "assertion, allegation; objection; intention; signification," from Medieval Latin pretensionem (nominative praetensio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin praetendere "stretch in front, put forward, allege" (see pretend (v.)). Meaning "unproven claim" is from c. 1600. Sense of "ostentation" is from 1727.
pretentious (adj.) Look up pretentious at
1836, from French prétentieux (17c.), from prétention "pretension," from Medieval Latin pretentionem (nominative pretentio) "pretension," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin praetendere (see pretend (v.)).
preter- Look up preter- at
also praeter-, word-forming element meaning "beyond," from Latin praeter (adverb and preposition) "beyond, before, above, more than," properly comparative of prae "before" (see pre-).
preterhuman (adj.) Look up preterhuman at
1803, from preter- + human (adj.).
preterist (n.) Look up preterist at
"one who favors the past," 1864 (as a theological term from 1843, "one who holds that the Apocalyptic prophecies have begun to be fulfilled"), from preter- + -ist.
preterite (adj.) Look up preterite at
mid-14c., "having to do with the past," from Old French preterit "past tense" (13c.) and directly from Latin praeteritum (as in tempus praeteritum "time past"), past participle of praeterire "to go by, go past," from praeter "beyond, before, above, more than" (see prae-) + itum, past participle of ire "to go" (see ion). Grammar sense is late 14c. The word also was a noun in Middle English meaning "past times" (late 14c.). Related: Preteritive. Preterite-present attested from 1813.
preterm (adj.) Look up preterm at
also pre-term, 1928, from pre- + term (n.).
pretermission (n.) Look up pretermission at
1580s, from Latin pretermissionem (nominative pretermissio), noun of action from past participle stem of praetermittere (see pretermit).
pretermit (v.) Look up pretermit at
1510s, from Latin praetermittere "let pass, overlook," from praeter- (see preter-) + mittere (see mission). Related: Pretermitted; pretermitting.
preternatural (adj.) Look up preternatural at
1570s, from Medieval Latin preternaturalis (mid-13c.), from Latin phrase praeter naturam (praeterque fatum) "beyond nature (and beyond fate)," from praeter "beyond" (see preterite) + accusative of natura "nature" (see natural). "Preternatural is used especially to note that which might have been a work of nature, but is not" [Century Dictionary].
preterperfect (n.) Look up preterperfect at
1530s, from Late Latin praeteritum perfectum "complete past;" see preter- + perfect (adj.). Related: Preterpluperfect.
pretest Look up pretest at
also pre-test, 1949 (v. and n.), from pre- + test.
pretext (n.) Look up pretext at
1510s, from French prétexte, from Latin praetextum "a pretext, outward display," noun use of neuter past participle of praetexere "to disguise, cover," literally "weave in front" (for sense, compare pull the wool over (someone's) eyes); from prae- "in front" (see pre-) + texere "to weave," from PIE root *teks- "to weave, to make" (see texture (n.)).
pretrial (n.) Look up pretrial at
"preliminary hearing before a trial," 1938, American English, from pre- + trial.
prettification (n.) Look up prettification at
1902, noun of action from prettify.
prettify (v.) Look up prettify at
1836, from pretty (adj.) + -fy. Related: Prettified; prettifying.
prettily (adv.) Look up prettily at
early 15c., from pretty (adj.) + -ly (2).
prettiness (n.) Look up prettiness at
1520s, from pretty + -ness.
pretty (adj.) Look up pretty at
Old English prættig (West Saxon), pretti (Kentish), *prettig (Mercian) "cunning, skillful, artful, wily, astute," from prætt, *prett "a trick, wile, craft," from Proto-Germanic *pratt- (cognates: Old Norse prettr "a trick," prettugr "tricky;" Frisian pret, Middle Dutch perte, Dutch pret "trick, joke," Dutch prettig "sportive, funny," Flemish pertig "brisk, clever"), of unknown origin.

Connection between Old English and Middle English words is uncertain, but if they are the same, meaning had shifted by c. 1400 to "manly, gallant," and later moved via "attractive, skillfully made," to "fine," to "beautiful in a slight way" (mid-15c.). Ironical use from 1530s. For sense evolution, compare nice, silly. Also used of bees (c. 1400). "After the OE. period the word is unknown till the 15th c., when it becomes all at once frequent in various senses, none identical with the OE., though derivable from it" [OED].

Meaning "not a few, considerable" is from late 15c. With a sense of "moderately," qualifying adjectives and adverbs, since 1560s. Pretty please as an emphatic plea is attested from 1902. A pretty penny "lot of money" is first recorded 1768.
pretty (n.) Look up pretty at
"a pretty person or thing," 1736, from pretty (adj.).
pretty (v.) Look up pretty at
1916, usually with up, from pretty (adj.). Related: Prettied; prettying. Compare prettify.
pretty-boy Look up pretty-boy at
1885 as an adjective, 1888 as a noun, from pretty (adj.) + boy (n.). In Middle English a pretty man was "a worthy or clever fellow."
pretzel (n.) Look up pretzel at
1851, from German Prezel, also Brezel, from Middle High German brezel, prezel, from Old High German brezitella, brecedela, from Medieval Latin *brachitella, presumably a kind of biscuit baked in the shape of folded arms (source also of Italian bracciatella, Old Provençal brassadel), diminutive of Latin bracchiatus "with branches, with arms," from bracchium "an arm, a forearm," from Greek brakhion "an arm" (see brachio-).
prevail (v.) Look up prevail at
c. 1400, "be successful; be efficacious," from Old French prevaleir (Modern French prévaloir) and directly from Latin praevalere "be stronger, have greater power," from prae "before" (see pre-) + valere "have power, be strong" (see valiant). Spelling in English perhaps influenced by avail. Related: Prevailed; prevailing.
prevailing (adj.) Look up prevailing at
1590s, "vigorous;" 1680s, "widely accepted," present participle adjective from prevail (v.).
prevalence (n.) Look up prevalence at
1590s, "fact of having mastery," from Middle French prévalence (15c.), from Late Latin praevalentia, from praevalens, present participle of praevalere (see prevalent). Meaning "condition of being widespread or general" is from 1713.
prevalent (adj.) Look up prevalent at
early 15c., "having great power or force," from Latin praevalentem (nominative praevalens) "of superior strength; mighty," present participle of praevalere "to be more able" (see prevail). Meaning "extensively existing, in general use" is from 1650s.
prevaricate (v.) Look up prevaricate at
1580s, "to transgress," a back formation from prevarication, or else from Latin praevaricatus, past participle of praevaricari "to make a sham accusation, deviate," literally "walk crookedly;" in Church Latin, "to transgress" (see prevarication). Meaning "to speak evasively" is from 1630s. Related: Prevaricated; prevaricating.
prevarication (n.) Look up prevarication at
late 14c., "divergence from a right course, transgression," from Old French prevaricacion "breaking of God's laws, disobedience (to the Faith)" (12c., Modern French prévarication) and directly from Latin praevaricationem (nominative praevaricatio) "duplicity, collusion, a stepping out of line (of duty or behavior)," noun of action from past participle stem of praevaricari "to make a sham accusation, deviate," literally "walk crookedly," in Church Latin, "to transgress," from prae "before" (see pre-) + varicare "to straddle," from varicus "straddling," from varus "bowlegged, knock-kneed" (see varus). Meaning "evasion, quibbling" is attested from 1650s.
prevaricator (n.) Look up prevaricator at
c. 1400, from Old French prevaricator and directly from Latin praevaricator "sham accuser; unfaithful advocate," agent noun from past participle stem of praevaricari (see prevaricate).
prevenient (adj.) Look up prevenient at
1650s, from Latin praevenientem (nominative praeveniens), present participle of praevenire, from prae- (see pre-) + venire "to come" (see venue).
prevent (v.) Look up prevent at
early 15c., "act in anticipation of," from Latin praeventus, past participle of praevenire "come before, anticipate, hinder," in Late Latin also "to prevent," from prae "before" (see pre-) + venire "to come" (see venue). Originally literal; sense of "anticipate to hinder" was in Latin, but not recorded in English until 1540s.
preventable (adj.) Look up preventable at
1630s, from prevent + -able.
preventative (adj.) Look up preventative at
1650s, from prevent + -ative. OED points out that preventive is better-formed. As a noun, from 1774.
prevention (n.) Look up prevention at
mid-15c., "action of stopping an event or practice," from Middle French prévention and directly from Late Latin praeventionem (nominative praeventio) "action of anticipating," noun of action from past participle stem of praevenire (see prevent).
preventive (adj.) Look up preventive at
1630s, from Latin praevent-, past participle stem of praevenire (see prevent), + -ive. As a noun, from 1630s; in medical use from 1670s.
preverbal (adj.) Look up preverbal at
1931, from pre- + verbal.
preview (v.) Look up preview at
c. 1600, "to see beforehand," from pre- + view (v.). Meaning "to show (a film, etc.) before its public opening" is from 1928. Related: Previewed; previewing.
preview (n.) Look up preview at
"a foretaste," 1880, from preview (v.); specifically "a showing of a book, film, etc. before public release" from 1920.
previous (adj.) Look up previous at
1620s, from Latin praevius "going before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + via "road" (see via). Related: Previously.
prevision (n.) Look up prevision at
1610s, "foresight," from French prévision (14c.), from Late Latin praevisionem (nominative praevisio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin praevidere "see first, see beforehand," from prae- "before" (see pre-) + videre "to see" (see vision).
prex (n.) Look up prex at
U.S. college slang for president (of a college), 1828. As a Latin verb, it meant "a request, entreaty."
prexy (n.) Look up prexy at
1871, slang extension of prex.
prey (v.) Look up prey at
c. 1300, "to plunder, pillage, ravage," from prey (n.) and in part from Old French preer, earlier preder (c.1040), from Late Latin praedare, from praeda (see prey (n.)). Its sense of "to kill and devour" is attested from mid-14c. Related: Preyed; preying.
prey (n.) Look up prey at
mid-13c., "animal hunted for food," also "that which is taken in war," from Old French preie "booty, animal taken in the chase" (mid-12c., Modern French proie), from Latin praeda "booty, plunder, game hunted," earlier praeheda, literally "something seized before," from PIE *prai-heda-; for first element see prae-; second element related to the second element in prehendere "to grasp, seize" (see prehensile).
prez (n.) Look up prez at
slang shortening of president, 1892, American English. Compare prex.