attractive as in high class, high level of maturity, and a grown up personality= pretty/beautiful(charlize theron)
when I look at a woman and the first thing I think of is what she would look like naked?= hott (Jenny mcCarthy)
when I see a girl that kind of doesn't fit into any category, but I still find attractive, especially if she is small or has a baby face = cute
from my experiences cute is used for girls who sometimes embarasse themselves and you find it funny, but it doesn't affect your feelings in a neg matter. pretty is kinda something I use to describe women I feel like are the epitome of a woman
It's ironic because "pretty" is an adjective that I would say to be nice or when referring to someone who I wasn't attracted to but was "pretty" such as an obvious example of a young girl. I wouldn't call a 7-year old girl "cute" because I use "cute" as an adjective to describe girls around my age whereas a 7-year old girl would still be "pretty". I hope that wasn't too winded or confusing :P I guess region or preference may have some small role to play in the use of such words.
Ok, I usually use cute when saying "Yea, she's cute," as a reply to a friend showing me a pic of someone they like or a girl who has some attractive qualities. It's not a bad thing. However, guys will typically say a girl is 'beautiful' or 'hot' or 'oh, my gosh, give me a minute with that picture I'll be right back,' to denote a strong attraction. However, if somone really emphasizes the word cute, it could mean the same as beautiful. However, I'm adult and don't watch sesame street anymore, so if its in person and someone calls you that, you might want to check and see if their wearing scooby doo underwear or something.